Woody: Vegas’ Glitter Is Perfect For NASCAR
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
I attended NASCAR’s inaugural New York City awards shindig in 1981 to cover hometown hotfoot Darrell Waltrip’s first championship presentation, and it was a hoot.
One amber-frozen moment: my sports writing sidekick Joe Caldwell and I strolled into the Waldorf Astoria lounge one evening and were greeted by a booming drawl – or a drawling boom – from Bud Moore that rattled the chandeliers. Bubba had indeed come to Broadway.
But over the years the Big Apple grew stale and a change of scenery was in order. What better getaway than Las Vegas? Anyone who’s bored in Vegas is clinically deceased.
I think NASCAR’s decision to move its awards banquet to the desert was fitting for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Las Vegas has been a staunch supporter of the sport ever since its track opened. (Unlike New York, which always seemed to look down its snoot at the visiting stock car Clampets.)
Also Las Vegas is the home of the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle, one a former champion and the other a champion-in-waiting. It’s also home to driver Brendan Gaughn, whose family owns a couple of casinos. Yesterday the Alabama Gang; today the Nevada Club.
I was on hand for Vegas’ inaugural Cup race. One neon marquee winked, “Welcome, Jeff Gordon.” Bright lights glittered off NASCAR haulers parked along the Strip. It was hard to decide which sparkled brighter and turned more heads: the show girls or the show cars.
The Good Ol’ Boys were a long way from Talla-vegas.
One regret: that Curtis Turner, Little Joe Weatherly, Coo Coo Marlin and some of the rowdy old gang couldn’t stick around for the Vegas hootenanny. They, like Las Vegas, never turned out the lights or stopped to sleep.
Then again, I’m not sure they and the city could survive each other; something would have short-circuited.
But perhaps the New NASCAR, with its domesticated drivers and sophisticated fans, make a proper fit for the New Las Vegas. After all, Bugsy and the Boys left town long ago. Didn’t they?
Las Vegas and NASCAR, what a combo: the fast rollers and the high rollers. Remember, you can’t spell Vegas without gas.
So come Friday night NASCAR will hand out some big checks and fancy hardware to men in tuxes and their sparkling ladies, and everybody will lift a glass to a season well-played.
Then it’s back home and, after a brief holiday break, back to work. Daytona’s just around the corner and there are cars to be built, tests to be run, sponsors to be buttered.
NASCAR, like Vegas, never naps.
– Larry Woody can be reached at email@example.com Comments