The Las Vegas Speedway might not be the first thought in family friendly locations, but the Ken Watrous family takes advantage of this Las Vegas treat frequently. It certainly sounds like the kind of place kids want to go, fast cars, fair-style food, being in any form of bleachers. But the question for parents is always about safety.
Safety is a pretty big concern for the Speedway, it has to keep everyone, not just kids, away from the track. There is a lot of need to keep random people out of the bays where they can get hurt, interfere with race staff, and even outright sabotage and corporate spying. Many areas check for ID or badges to let people through, so the odds that a kid is going to wriggle their way into a dangerous place is pretty low. That said, it is a place that is full of people, and whenever you have a large crowd of people, you have the chance of kids getting separated and wandering off. It is definitely a place to keep a hand on the kids, and not just an eye. That said, some of our most fun family outings have been at the Speedway.
The main attraction is watching the races, and there are a whole variety of different races to see, depending on the schedule. With the number of tracks the Speedway offers, there are events running nearly year round and a wide selection of appeals. The NASCAR races are the most popular, but can be a trial for smaller children with many laps becoming more of an endurance test for the parents to keep the kids occupied.
The Air Race is a great day for the family with a variety of smaller aircraft doing tricks and races in the skies above the tracks. There are also the drag races, which are the right amount of fun and come down. It takes a bit for each race to start as the cars are brought onto the track and fired up, and it can be a bit loud for young children, some form of ear muffs are a good idea to keep the higher volumes from scaring them. But kids really light up when the flames shoot out of exhausts and the dragsters speed down the track.
The go-kart track is also a fun place to go with all the excitement of the bigger races but scaled down to something that is more fun for the kids to watch and takes less time to complete. For me, the Neon Garage is the best feature offered by the Speedway. This is a tour of the pits and bays where the cars are prepared and worked on. With views from the ground level and an elevated level, which works great for the short kids, the kids can get a feeling of the race environment. It is also fun to see the kids excited about people working with tools and mechanics doing their work. Kids can get behind their favorite team (usually based on the color of the car) and watch and wave from the different areas.
There are also a number of attractions geared towards the parents. Riding along in a race car, exotic sports car driving, and even a semi-affordable racing league. These activities are not for minors to participate in, but if you schedule a run in one of the ride-alongs or drives, the kids can watch, and if you think they get excited watching racing, well, a kid gets really excited knowing mom or dad is doing the driving of something like that. It really gets them wound up long after leaving. Though it can be a bit difficult to have them not pressure you to speed when on the freeway afterwards…
Concessions are expensive, as these things tend to be, but few things beat the experience of stuff like a hamburger and nachos out in the stands while cars whiz around going fast and loud. They do allow you to bring in your own water bottles, which can be a much better way of keeping the kids from burning up in the sun than feeding them a constant string of sodas. They also allow some of your own food items (as long as they are small) so you can still work with picky eaters or kids with sensitive diets.
Holiday season is great, too. Some of the best Christmas lights are at the Speedway. You can drive your car through the various areas of the tracks and see the decorations right from your car. It’s better than driving around in the neighborhood because it’s so extravagant and the lights keep you occupied.