Wealthy execs get to use state highway as their personal race track

| 3/5/2003

South Dakota shut down a section of a state highway recently to allow a group of wealthy executives to use it to race their sports cars, according to a report March 4 in the Black Hills Pioneer.

For 30 minutes in September, the report said, the 50 executives had exclusive access, courtesy of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, to a 1-mile stretch of the highway near Reva in Harding County, a remote area in the northwestern part of the state. During the event, despite the presence of patrol officers and a state law specifying that no vehicle can exceed 65 mph on a state road, no speeding tickets were issued.

The same law says: "No person may drive a vehicle on a highway in any race, speed competition or ... exhibition of speed or acceleration."

The group had tried to use the runway at a local Air Force base, but was denied permission. They have previously used highways in Montana, the Pioneer reported, also with highway patrol escort. A trip to Wyoming was canceled, however, because Vice President Dick Cheney frequents the area, causing road and airport closings.

Club members "are not accustomed to being discommoded in any way," Beyond the West Club President Jane Creighton told the newspaper. "Some of them fly their own planes, jets, in to the event and it would not go over well with those members to be turned away from either an airport or restaurant due to the importance of another person such as the vice president."