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Woody: Vegas’ Glitter Is Perfect For NASCAR

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 3 2010

Jimmie Johnson does a burnout on the Strip in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

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 lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 3 2010
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Pat says:

    I heard the last race will be in Vagas soon

  • Terry says:

    Marybeth….that is about half of Bill Elliotts total……
    He never complained about coverage…..

  • Sue Rarick says:

    The problem isn’t as much Vegas as it is the organizing of the event.

    We decided to go this year instead of our usual winter trip to Europe. There was soooo much wrong I would need a novel length book to list them all.

    We could start with the fact that most of the cars were NOT chase or even Sprint cup cars. Hell one stop had a regular 4 door sedan(???). By the Phoenix race they knew who was going to be in the chase ……leave the 12 cars there and take them to Vegas. Save gas!!!

    It was a pretty good idea to put the cars along the strip but I gave up walking to the #48’s spot by the Vegas sign after about a 3 mile walk. Seriously who’s bright idea was that?

    Never mind that NASCAR only put out a schedual of events a couple weeks before the event. We planned our schedual on last years schedual and hoped we got close.

    I understand the Trophy is somewhere in the Wynn’s. I couldn’t find it. There were no signs anywhere to be found. Maybe someone should lend NASCAR some cardboard and a magic marker next year?

    A rolling roadblock??? New York City and Chicago can shut down their streets on Thanksgiving but Vegas can’t shut down the strip for an hour??? Ohhhh I forgot they can … and they will… Sunday for the Marathon. I finally found a missed nook on the Ceasar’s overpass to get a decent video of the parade.

    What about giving recognition to a real sprint cup pit crew instead of insulting the intelligence of the fans that did show up with STUDENT pit crews.

    I saw three or four people with press credentials having problems getting access because they didn’t have OFFICIAL Nascar credentials. Hey NASCAR ….. stop whining about wider recognition. Your doing a good job of insulting people that could help spread the word.

    The whole event was amateur. The event planner needs to be hung by their thumbs till they promise to leave the profession forever. If your going to do it on the cheap…be cheap. Hold it at Homestead with the other two…..Heck Nascar already paid for the hall.

  • Marybeth says:

    What…no article about Jr.’s 8th MPD Award…?