Monday, March 5, 2012

Why I Love NASCAR: Las Vegas by Chief 187™

The racing in Las Vegas is just the start
of the action available. Credit: John Bisci
Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) is the one track that holds the most mystique for me. Situated in the desert with its neon lit backdrop, and home to rabid race fans, Las Vegas woos me each year and beckons for me to explore its surroundings.

Known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”, attending a NASCAR race in Las Vegas, my favorite entertainment in the world, would be the ultimate.

Both NASCAR and Las Vegas were starting their climb to superstardom around the same time, the 1940s. The fact that for well over a decade they have occupied the same spot and will continue to do so far into the future is a logical and brilliant combination.

I first heard about LVMS when my parents were vacationing in Las Vegas in 1997 and sent my husband a t-shirt from the track. They were awed by its magnificence.

The last time I heard about the track, a tragedy had occurred. Dan Wheldon, 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner, died in an accident at the season-ending race of the Izod IndyCar Series. IndyCars being open-wheeled do not lend themselves well to racing on ovals in speeds in excess of 215 miles per hour.

But stock cars, NASCAR cars, run well at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Mark Martin won the inaugural Winston Cup race held there on March 1, 1998.

The one-groove track created rather lackluster events in terms of racing.

The Winston No Bull 5 $1 Million Bonus was a huge boon to racing at LVMS. That was some serious money to smack down as a purse and watching the drivers vie for it was even more stimulating than usual!

Though short-lived, only run from 1999-2002, this incarnation of the bonus added drama to an already adrenaline-filled sport running at a ho-hum track. Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon each won a million dollars in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

A track reconfiguration in 2006 brought progressive banking to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that provided much more side-by-side racing. Events became far more interesting and watchable.

Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
My favorite NASCAR memory at LVMS was when Kyle Busch won the race in 2009. Being that he and his older brother Kurt are from Las Vegas, it was neat to see him win at his “home track”. In addition, I enjoyed the family bond that was clearly evident when Kurt Busch and their mother joined Kyle in Victory Lane to congratulate him and help celebrate.  That snapshot in time drove home the point that NASCAR has much to do about family, even in Las Vegas!

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet was still held in New York City at the famed Waldorf Astoria, a friend of mine, Heysi 187, who is a NASCAR fan and resident of Las Vegas, declared that the banquet belonged in Vegas. I scoffed at the idea, preferring the awards ceremony stayed near my New Jersey home so I could savor a touch of NASCAR magic as the season ended and the long off-season began.

NASCAR obviously agreed with Heysi 187, who always touts the benefit of having a second date for Las Vegas on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, and moved the event.

In 2009 the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet moved from New York City into its lavish, extravagant, loud and posh new digs in Las Vegas.

I must admit, the banquet broadcasts have been snazzier, the guests more high-end, and the entertainment, top-notch.

Although I have never been to Las Vegas, its reputation draws me in and makes me want to experience the setting. From the LVMS to the Las Vegas Strip it is definitely the place to see and be seen.

Las Vegas was great enough for the Rat Pack and Elvis; it is great enough for NASCAR!

Having Las Vegas on the circuit and as the locale for the awards banquet is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

5 comments :

Wow, what a great picture. I sense true affection in that hug from Kurt to Kyle. Nice read Chief187!

I invite every NASCAR fan to come to Vegas and see a race here and you'll see that LVMS is a great place to see a race. Great food (they just added a Food Truck area and Gluten-free options); great views, THE BEST FLY-OVER, hands down; great chances to see drivers (for Kyle fans, M&M WORLD, need I say more?); the hauler parade down The Strip; the Neon Garage. Plus we have plenty of hotel rooms and tons of entertainment. Come back for Champions Week and the party extends to the whole city.

On a personal note, Chief, you and the rest of the 187 clan are always welcome in Vegas. I'll even give you the family tour of town

Heysi 187,

Racer 187 asked me just today when we'd be going to Las Vegas. I'd say we'll be taking you up on that offer one day in the future!

Thank you!!

The wife and i are headed there tomorrow. It's gonna be her first race. i hope it's a good one!

The Kyle/Kurt moment is also my favorite Vegas moment!

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