LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- The president of Las Vegas Motor Speedway has apologized and taken the blame for a parking lot miss-communication that left several thousand fans locked into a general admission lot for nearly an hour after Sunday's Kobalt 400.
"We made a big mistake and I assure you that it won't happen again," LVMS President Chris Powell told News 3 this afternoon. "There were thousand of cars trapped. It was a break down of communications on our part and I take the blame for that."
Las Vegas resident David Morehouse said he left the race early in attempt to get ahead of the expected traffic jam. He said all general (nonpaid) cars were held in their lots while those who paid for parking were allowed to go first. He said a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper and LVMS parking staffers confirmed that decision made by LVMS management.
Morehouse sent an email to News 3 on Sunday night, which said in part:
"No one, from any nonpaid parking lot was allowed to leave the raceway until 45 minutes after the checkered flag. And that was just when the gates were opened to lot number 7. I was in a lot adjacent to number 7 (I assume it was lot 8, or 9), and I would have had to wait for lot number 7 to empty, which would have been another hour at least."
"People in the lot I was in began to confront the officers and parking attendants. Tempers were beyond hot, and people were now threatening police officers. Police officers were threatening back, and began targeting people for arrest."
"Minutes before it was going to erupt into a full-scale riot, a state trooper lieutenant, came up to the gate and in complete frustration, ordered the troopers off the post. In so doing, he allowed all lots to begin emptying. This was 59 minutes after the end of the race, and easily two hours from the time thousands of us who tried to leave early, before the official end of the race, were permitted through the gates."
Morehouse has pressed his complaint to the mayor's office.
Powell said the LVMS lots were empty two hours and 45 minutes after the race concluded, and says the NASCAR standard for races with more than 100,000 attendees is to have the lots cleared in three hours.
News 3 has called Powell and awaits an answer on Morehouse's claims that all nonpaid parkers were blocked in.