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Woody: Vegas Perfect For Bubbas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 1 2009

Vegas week logoI attended the first Bubba on Broadway NASCAR Awards Banquet in New York in 1981 and had a ball. Talk about swapping grits for ritz.

That first one was fun, but over the years the ceremony grew as stale as a subway wino’s socks.

The best entertainment became watching drivers try to read the speeches on the teleprompter that their PR people wrote for them:

“I’d like to (uh) thank my (ah) sponsor for all the (er) ass (squint) istance this (um) season…”

The inaugural Big Apple shindig was livened up by the presence of Darrell Waltrip, who loquaciously celebrated his first championship. (Teleprompter? D.W. Don’t need no stinkin’ teleprompter!)

But Darrell retired, New York grew tiresome, and it was time for a change of scenery.

NASCAR made a perfect choice in picking Las Vegas for its Dec. 4 awards blowout.

At least Vegas, unlike NY, has some racing ties: a gleaming racetrack and the town that gave us the Amazing Busch Brothers.

I covered the first Vegas Cup race in 1998 and it was a doozie of a weekend.

Some fond Vegas vignettes:

Sight-seeing in the desert with my sportswriter cohorts Monte Dutton and Jim McLaurin. (And no, I won’t tell what Jimmy Mac wanted to do off the side of Hoover Dam.)

Attending a Willie Nelson concert on tickets provided by Las Vegas Speedway prez and all-around good guy Chris Powell.

Hearing some over-served tourist trying to sing “Stardust” with Willie. (Next day I was informed that the tourist was me.)

Watching a gambler wearing a green Bobby Labonte racing cap and matching jacket drop $20,000 at a blackjack table in less than 30 minutes.

Seeing a decal-plastered stock car parked in front of one the big glitzy casinos alongside a lineup of limos. (The late promoter Uncle Bob Harmon once considered staging a Limo Race at Nashville Speedway but his insurance agent talked him out of it.)

Watching the sun set in the desert.

Watching the sun come up in the desert.

Promising to name my next two kids Aspirin and Alka-Seltzer.

Driving down The Strip one night and seeing a hotel marquee that glared: “Welcome Hermie Sadler!”

Sitting on the balcony with fellow sports writers comparing a weekend in Vegas with a weekend in North Wilkesboro.

Watching the two blond guys in leotards poke and prod some tigers and wondering what would happen if the tigers ever got tired of the act. (We eventually found out.)

Getting caught in a monster traffic jam the morning of the race when the traffic cops for some reason blocked off half the lanes with orange cones. Guess they’d been issued the handy NASCAR Guide on How to Snarl Traffic.

Interviewing Mark Martin after he won a race that, frankly, wasn’t very exciting.

Seeing Mark pose in Victory Circle with a trio of scantily-clad Vegas showgirls and wondering what would happen if a breeze suddenly ruffled their feathers.

Watching an Elvis impersonator doing an Earnhardt impression. Or was it an Earnhardt impersonator doing an Elvis impression? The details, like much of the Vegas weekend, are still a tad fuzzy.

But I know it was fun.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 1 2009
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