The Drive also offers two off-road courses. One, limited to Hummers, challenges the bravery of those inside the H2 or H3 more than it taxes either vehicle's capabilities.
The other off-pavement circuit displays the dexterity of more typical four-wheel-drive vehicles. They include the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade and a diesel-powered Chevrolet Silverado.
The Drive emerged from Auto Show in Motion, which invited consumers to test-drive GM vehicles through orange-coned courses at stadium-sized parking lots in major U.S. cities. After six years of the program, GM sought a single, semi-permanent site in a popular venue.
GM selected an 11-acre site just off the Las Vegas Strip. It built The Drive behind the Sahara Hotel & Casino, in a bowllike setting formed by the north end of the elevated Las Vegas Monorail tracks.
The Drive opened in mid-April. It will operate at least through October.
Steve Tihanyi, GM's general director of marketing and entertainment alliances, created Auto Show in Motion and The Drive. He says the Las Vegas attraction offers "a different approach."
"With Auto Show in Motion, we invited specific people with a specific profile, hoping for a specific response," Tihanyi told Automotive News. GM recruited participants it knew were shopping for new vehicles and presented a broad array of GM products for them to test, he says.
"In Vegas, people are on vacation and they aren't necessarily going to buy tomorrow," Tihanyi says. "This is a longer-term selling proposition. Call it investment spending for when they're ready to buy a vehicle. The prime objective is raising the consideration for our products, so when they're in the shopping mind-set, they'll put you on their list."
Selling the sizzle
GM is promoting some of its halo vehicles at The Drive. "We selected key products that have an element of excitement," Tihanyi says, "the sizzle for the brand."
The Drive is open to anyone who is at least 18 years old, has a valid driver's license, passes a Breathalyzer test and pays the $10 admission fee.
Foreign tourists are welcome, Tihanyi says.
Visitors can drive two laps in each of two vehicles. Passengers can ride for free; children must weigh at least 40 pounds.
No GM salespeople are on site. But a large welcome center offers various displays and sources of vehicle information.
You may e-mail Larry Edsall at [email protected]