NASCAR makes another Vegas pit-stop

I’m one of those guys who dreams about the day when I can pack up my motor-home and head on the road–to follow the Nascar circuit around the country. Until then, I’ll settle for attending my annual two or three races a year and watching the twists and turns on television.

One must know that the fun and excitement of Nascar these days has a lot to do with events that occur off the track. One of those yearly and most prestigious events is the annual Nascar Awards Banquet. As reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal today, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is very close to inking a deal with Nascar to move the Awards Banquet from New York City to Las Vegas.

If this deal were to go through, it would be an amazing win for Las Vegas and Nascar. First off, let me just say that when I lived in Manhattan and experienced what New York made famous “Nascar Week”, I was extremely impressed. New York put on a great show for fans all over Manhattan, with driver appearances and venues all over the city–stock cars on every other corner, and an Awards Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria that has always been elegant and breathtaking. While the number of NASCAR fans have increased in Manhattan over the years, I think that Las Vegas offers a much better backdrop and caters directly to a large contingent of fans.

In recent years, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has become in many ways a fan-favorite track. With the “Neon Garage” being one of the best ways on the circuit to get close to your driver, folks descend on Las Vegas from all over the country. In fact, this past March when NASCAR was in town, as I stood in line I was surrounded by foreigners. In front of me was a young man from Germany who was attending his first ever NASCAR race. Behind me were two soldiers from Australia that were conducting exercises at Nellis Air force Base–they two were attending a NASCAR race for the first time.

Similar to New York, Las Vegas has over the years brought first class shopping and dining to augment its bright lights. In addition, Las Vegas has the ability to cater to thousands of fans with our plentiful number of hotel rooms. I imagine that NASCAR drivers and fans won’t mind that the weather being a little warmer in Las Vegas than in New York.

Finally, Las Vegas has for years struggled to find ways to diversify its economy and the fact is, NASCAR has done that. This year NASCAR brought in an estimated $200 million dollars in non-gaming revenue. Can you imagine what bringing the Awards Banquet to Las Vegas for another week out of the year would do to our local economy…it would be fantastic! While I may be a little biased about Las Vegas hosting the Awards Banquet, there is not doubt that Vegas does events in style–for decades, Las Vegas has been the Convention Capital, Gaming Capital, and Entertainment Capital…how about becoming the West Coast NASCAR Capital!

By Nathan Taylor

Friday, April 3rd, 2009 Sports

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