General Motors: The Ride
Car company opens a test-track facility in Las Vegas. Visitors can buy tickets to drive GM cars.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - If the stock price is too depressing, try the rides. General Motors is taking another step into the world of interactive entertainment with the opening of the "The Drive" in Las Vegas. Ticket-buying visitors will be able to drive GM vehicles on sharply winding test tracks near the famous Las Vegas Strip.
A paved route is designed for high-performance driving while another route is covered in dirt and rocks for off-road driving. Part of the off-road route, designed specifically for Hummers, includes a 15-foot "mountain," giant moguls, and v-shaped ditches with deeply sloped banks.
For one $10 ticket, visitors will get a choice of four laps on the performance loop, two laps on the off-road course or a combination of two performance laps and one off-road lap. A professional driver rides along in every car.
"'The Drive' represents a significant marketing opportunity for General Motors, allowing us to showcase our products in a unique fashion that will provide a fun-filled time for the millions of people who live in or visit Las Vegas," said Steve Tihanyi, general director of marketing and entertainment alliances for GM, in a company announcement.
The cars initially available to drive will be the Chevrolet Corvette, Pontiac GTO, Cadillac CTS-V performance sedan, Pontiac Solstice two-seat convertible, Saab 9-3 convertible and the Chevrolet SSR high-performance pick-up, as well as the Hummer H2, Hummer H2 SUT and Hummer H3.
Drivers must be 18 years of age, sign a safety waiver and pass a zero-tolerance breathalyzer test. "The Drive" is scheduled to open to the public on April 10.
"It's kind of a huge learning lab for us," Tihanyi told CNNMoney.com in an interview.
"The Drive" is a test for the company to see how this kind of experience works in a permanent environment, he said. Currently, the company puts on "Auto Show in Motion" events at various major cities during the year. Those events feature closed-course test drives of GM cars and competing vehicles.
General Motors already sponsors a different type of ride in Disney World's Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. That ride, called "Test Track," opened in 1999 and simulates the experience of testing a car at GM's various proving facilities. At Epcot Center, riders are shuttled around in electric-powered cars on a slot-car-like track accompanied by piped-in automobile sounds.
"Test Track" riders go through various simulated tests including extreme heat, extreme cold, fast acceleration and hard braking with and without anti-lock brakes. They are also treated to a simulated crash test.