Navigation 

Las Vegas Convention Center

P1460928

Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada

From the travels and adventures of the “World’s #1 Trackchaser”

Lifetime Track #1,806

 

HighlightsThe DetailsAttractionsRace ReviewVideosPhotosQuick Facts

From not very much to more than enough…………….more in “The Details”.

 

It pays to have friends in high places…………..details in “The Details”.

 

Care to guess how many tracks I have seen in Las Vegas?………………more in “Race Review”.

 

 

 

 

 P1530735

672 square feet.

I think it would be safe to say I grew up in somewhat humble beginnings.  For the first fifteen years of my life I lived in East Peoria, Illinois at 411 Doering Street.  If you were to check out www.zillow.com you would find my boyhood home was a 672 square foot dwelling that housed my sister, my mother and me.  That’s about 1/10th as big as our modest cottage that overlooks the Pacific Ocean where we reside today.  Heck, that little house where I grew up is worth less TODAY than the last CAR I bought!

 

Vacations were rare in our household.  I remember taking a bus trip on a horribly hot day to visit my grandmother in Evansville, Indiana.  Once a year we would have a one-day driving trip to Chicago to see the Cubs play.  During the winter I might accompany my grandparents up to Chicago to watch my grandfather in a bowling tournament.  Staying in a hotel in Chicago on one of these trips was “over the moon” to me.  I didn’t fly on my first airplane until I was 21 years old.  My how things have changed.

 

Although we didn’t have anything when and where I grew up that didn’t bother me in the least.  If you’ve never had anything you don’t miss it.  Everyone in my neighborhood was poor but we didn’t know it!


As time passed things changed.

Following college graduation and my time on active duty in the United States Marine Corps things began to change.  I was hired to work for Richardson-Vicks.  Thirteen years later RVI was acquired by Procter & Gamble.

 

My first ever sales territory covered the Eastern half of Iowa and the Western half of Illinois.  There might not be a better area for “mid-week” stock car racing specials in the world!  You can bet that if the track in Eldon, Iowa was having a special race on a Tuesday night that “somehow” my sales calls that day would be within shouting distance of the Eldon track.

 

Not only did my job make it convenient to see the race but somebody ELSE was footing the bill.  The company paid for my gas to get there, my hotel for the evening and even gave me an expense account that covered my meals for the entire trip.  To put a cherry on top they gave me five bucks a week for dry cleaning just in case my racing t-shirt got filthy at the dirt track I was visiting….which it almost always did.


It seems as if someone else has always paid the bills.

From age 23 to age 53 I had this type of “sponsorship” at virtually every racechasing and trackchasing trip I ever took.  Then I retired from P&G at age 53.  I was on my own then.  However, at age 57 my airline sponsorship kicked in and remains in place to this day.  I guess I was only an “independent” from age 53 to 57.  Folks, this hasn’t been a bad gig if you can get it.



My ‘work’ is a whole lot different now compared to ‘back in the day’.

Although I am retired from “traditional” work I still invest in partnerships.  I’ve done that most of my life with a good buddy in Las Vegas.  It was the profits from those partnerships that enabled me, along with the most generous retirement program of any large company IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (Procter & Gamble), to retire so early.

 

My current partnership is a “debit card” operation.  It looks as if it is really starting to come into its own.  Heck, with the profits from this endeavor I might be able to revert back to my “independent” trackchasing status and never notice the difference.

IMG_0498

I was in Vegas on business.

I was in Las Vegas for a business meeting.  Whenever I come to “Vegas” I get the royal treatment from my business partner, “Mr. Hammer”.  On this occasion he set me up in a suite at the Hotel at the Mandalay Bay.  The size of my suite was bigger than the house I lived in for fifteen years as a boy!

 

My “space” had four TVs, four telephones and two bathrooms.  I’ve stayed in my share of beautiful hotel suites during my travels.  The major hotel chains like to upgrade their most frequent “stayers” whenever they can.  What makes this situation all the more unique is that just five nights ago I was sleeping in the chapel overnight at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston).  I feel I’m just as comfortable in a Motel 6 or the airport chapel as I am in a big Las Vegas hotel suite.  However, if I had my druthers I don’t have a problem staying in a Mandalay Bay hotel suite every night I’m on the road.


 

The last major push.

I woke up this morning in San Clemente, California.  I went to bed in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is what today looked like.

 

After taking six weeks off from trackchasing I am into the last major “push” of the season.  Last week I saw racing in Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.  Then I flew home.  I was in San Clemente for just sixteen hours.  Much of that waking time was spent putting the final touches on this trip and the one that will follow immediately after Las Vegas.



Oh, my!  Trackchasing country #63 in on the horizon.

From Las Vegas I will head to Seattle and then onto Trackchasing Country #63.  By the way, you might want to consider the previous information when calculating your Trackchasing Country #63 guess.  I’ll come home from that international trip for a day or two and then head out to Hawaii for a couple of days to visit our son Jim.  That weekend will likely be followed by my last trackchasing trip of 2012.  During the upcoming 32-day period I expect to be gone overnight some twenty-two days.

 

In order for my airline sponsorship to work I need to travel when the paying customers are less likely to be flying.  That normally means very early flights and very late flights each day.

 

Taking early flights requires very early wake-up calls.  I got up at 2 a.m. California time yesterday in Charlotte to begin my trip back to San Clemente.  This morning my alarm came at 4:30 a.m.  Tomorrow my alarm goes off at 5:20 a.m. so that I can sleep overnight on an airplane on my way to trackchasing country #63.  Who ever said retirement would be a “laid back” lifestyle was wrong….for me anyway.

 

Flying from LAX to Las Vegas is an easy one-hour flight.  I decided to rent a car for my stay in Las Vegas for fifty dollars.  That would be cheaper than taking four taxis during my short stay.  Taxis are very expensive in Las Vegas.  I figured I would spend the better part of a one hundred dollar bill if I went that route.  It’s little, but quick, decisions like this one that can really be beneficial over the long run.

IMG_0506

Too big can be just too big.

There is one downside to the mega-sized hotels like the Mandalay Bay.  They’re too big!  It takes 15 minutes to get from your room to wherever you parked your car.  I normally have to stop and ask directions from hotel employees 2-3 times just to find the parking garage.

 

I’m not much of a fan of the Las Vegas International Airport either.  It’s just too damned big.  I usually have a pretty good “lay of the land” in any airport I visit.  Not so in Las Vegas.  I NEVER know where I’m at.  It’s a far cry from the tiny Las Vegas airport I first visited in 1974 when the rental cars were a 50-yard walk across from the airport terminal.  Now the rental car location is a FIFTEEN MINUTE bus ride from the terminal!



My good buddy is going big time nowadays.

I am blessed to have good friends located all over the United States and the world really.  None is a better friend than my buddy Jim Hammer.  We’ve known each other since 1968.  When Jim entered Northern Illinois University as a freshman I was his dormitory resident assistant.

 

Yes, this is the same “Northern Illinois University” that will be playing in the Orange Bowl football game on January 1.  Will I be in Miami to see that game?  Does a bear s$^t in the woods?

 

Jim and I have seen each other multiple times every year since we graduated in 1971-72.  I’ve had wife #1 (his not mine) throw a flower pot from a second floor balcony as we went against her wishes to go “out on the town” to gamble.  I’ve had wife #2 (again his not mine) play nerf basketball with us amidst all of their custom furniture while their “house boy” from Thailand looked on in utter amazement.

 

Carol and I have spent the weekend with Jim and his current wife #3 at the Mall of America for nothing other than a shopping trip.  I’m pretty sure he is maxed out with wives now.  The happy couple has two beautiful, smart and personable college bound children nowadays.

What happens in Vegas

Jim and I have had our share of “personal” experiences.   I can’t tell you about some of them because “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” if you know what I mean.  What I can tell you is that we’ve golfed together, played softball and basketball together, had late night runs in Las Vegas and spent our share of time just “bullshitting”.  That’s what good friends are for.

 

Jim has had his share of ups and downs in business (mostly ups).  Along the way he’s become friends with all kinds of celebrities and is now “moving and shaking” in major political circles.  He’s had the Beach Boys play in his backyard and still talks to them frequently.  In the past couple of months he’s met privately with Mitt Romney.  Tomorrow he is having lunch with Mike Tyson.  He was telling me about his last visit to Mike Tyson’s home in Las Vegas.  Who was with Mr. Tyson playing pinball at the house?  None other than Justin Beaber!

 

Jim has come a long way in his life.  Luckily, I’ve been able to be right there with him for many of those fun times.  I can’t wait for more of them to come down the pike.

 


Lupo Wolfgang Puck

ONE CANNOT LIVE WELL OR SLEEP WELL IF ONE HAS NOT DINED WELL

 

Lupo by Wolfgang Puck – Las Vegas, Nevada

After the races tonight Mr. Hammer and I dined in the Mandalay Bay hotel at their famous restaurant, “Lupo by Wolfgang Puck”.  I can’t recall ever having better service.  The Italian food was fantastic.  Jim and I joked and laughed about all of our lifelong experiences.  We had a great time.

 

Then we talked a little business.  Business seems to be going well.  I’m hoping to cash out before I “cash out” if you know what I mean.  If and when I do make a “score” here I might finally approach the same financial footing of those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers”.  As it is now, I’m no match for the well-funded eastern-based trackchasing teams.

 

 



IMG_0510

LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 

Ten Las Vegas tracks!

This was the tenth different track I have seen within the city limits of Las Vegas over the years.  I don’t believe any other trackchaser has ever seen so many tracks within one city.  The funny thing is I still have TWO more Las Vegas city tracks on my radar screen.

 

I think as you review this list you will find that most of the tracks offered REAL racing not the novelty stuff that dominates some trackchaser’s annual schedules.

 

THE LAS VEGAS LIST

2006 – Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – asphalt oval

1981 – Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix – World Formula 1 in the casino parking lot!

Pre – 1980 – Craig Road Speedway – now defunct dirt oval

2012 – Las Vegas Convention Center – mixed surface Global Rallycross – today

1996 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1.5 mile asphalt oval for NASCAR Sprint Cup

(I saw the inaugural race for this track, which hosted Indy cars)

2010 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – ¼-mile asphalt inner oval

1996 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – ½-mile dirt oval

2004 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – permanent asphalt road course outside the main LVMS oval track

2009 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – temporary dirt road course for stadium off-road racing

2007 – Vegas Grand Prix – street course through downtown Las Vegas – inaugural champ car event

 

I have even seen another track with “Las Vegas” in its name the Las Vegas International Raceway in nearby (about 40 miles) Primm, Nevada.  That’s a lot of Las Vegas activity isn’t it.

P1460925

You won’t see much ‘rallycross’ in the states.

Tonight’s racing activity was “Rallycross”.  Normally, that means the cars will race on a “mixed” surface of asphalt and dirt.  Tonight’s temporary course was laid out in a parking/vacant lot just across the street from the Las Vegas Convention Center.  It featured the traditional mixed track surface.

 

The event was being held in conjunction with and partially sponsored by the S.E.M.A. (Specialty Equipment Market Association) convention.  This is an automotive related group.  S.E.M.A. is one of the largest conventions to come to Las Vegas all year.



Talk about last minute.

This race was a LAST MINUTE addition to the Global Rallycross (Global Rallycross) schedule.  S.E.M.A. convention members were admitted for free.  All they had to do was walk across the street from the LVCC to get to the track.  These folks all were wearing their large convention name tags.

 

The Global Rallycross group had plans to sell 3,000 tickets to the general public.  Since the entire spectator group could not have numbered much more than 1,000 (and most of those were S.E.M.A. members) I doubt they sold many tickets to the general public.  They didn’t even start SELLING tickets to this race until about a week before the event.



Oops.

I was the exception to that result.  I bought two tickets to the event for Jim and me.  Then at the last minute Jim had to attend his daughter’s state volleyball match.  That left me with an extra ticket.  No problem.  I planned to sell it at the event.  However, when I went to print the tickets I printed out ONE ticket for first Monday’s racing (yesterday) and one ticket for today’s Tuesday racing.  I didn’t even KNOW they had heat races on Monday!  That left me effectively with just one ticket so I couldn’t sell the other one since I couldn’t print it at the track.  Oh, well.

IMG_0513

Different to be different?

Global Rallycross does things just a little bit differently than Europe’s WORLD Rallycross.  WR has a “Joker” lap.  GR calls their change in the track a “shortcut”.  Whatever you want to call it I like the idea.

 

Rallycross racing is short in duration.  Today the races were 8-10 laps which is the LONGEST rallycross racing I have ever seen.  During one of those laps the racer must take his/her joker/shortcut lap.  This diversion is normally longer than racing on the regular track.  Each driver must take one of these laps sometime during the race.

 

Tonight’s event was being televised live on ESPN 2.  I texted Carol so she could tune in to see where I was trackchasing.  She said it “looked dirty” on TV.  In point of fact, although the racing on the dirt portion of the track was dusty, there was no dirt for the fans in the stands.

 

The program featured two eight lap heats with about eight cars in each.  In the European rallycross racing I’ve seen there were normally only 4-5 cars racing for 4-5 laps.  Then they had a four-car last chance race before having a 10-car 10-lap feature event.



This was most unusual.

With just a few laps remaining in the feature one of the cars caught fire drawing a red flag.  When that was cleaned up the announcer told the crowd they were going to increase the remainder of the race to EIGHT laps.  “Wasn’t that a nice benefit to the crowd” the announcer crowed.  I doubt that U.S. based driver Tanner Faust thought much of that idea.  He was leading the race at the time of the red flag and racing for the championship.  Nevertheless, when they resumed racing Faust went on to win the race and the six-race season long championship.

 

This is unusual racing for America.  You won’t want to miss the photos and pictures.  The track had a big jump in the elevated “crossover” that looks great in the movie I produce.

 

 

STATE COMPARISONS

NEVADA

 

The Silver State

 

This evening I saw my 27th lifetime track in the Silver state, yes the Silver state.  No trackchaser has come anywhere close to seeing that many Nevada based racetracks.

 

Going into this year, make that going into this MONTH, I had never heard of this track.  Surprisingly, that happens a lot.  Also, again somewhat surprisingly, I still have two more Las Vegas based tracks yet to see.

 

During 2012, one trackchaser has reported seeing racing on two Nevada inner ovals.  Trackchasing commissioner Guy Smith has included these tracks in the “Guy Smith controlled and Pennsylvania based” trackchasing list.

 

For the life of me I cannot confirm these events.  I have contacted each promoter and they “swear up and down” to quote my grandmother that no one other than “kids” has ever raced on their inner oval.  For the time being I’m going with their judgment since I’ve asked each of them the same question in multiple ways.  I’m not accusing anyone of being dishonest…..I’m just sayin.


Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member

 

Nevada sayings:  Take a gamble….on a $7.95 steak dinner.

 

 


 

TRAVEL DETAILS


AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Las Vegas, NV (LAS) – 236 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #1

McCarran (Las Vegas) International Airport – trip begins

Las Vegas, Nevada – 11 miles

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

Las Vegas Convention Center – $25

 

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

 

The three most important trackchasing comparisons to me are:

 

Total lifetime tracks seen

Total “trackchasing countries” seen

Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

 

Total Lifetime Tracks

There are no trackchasers currently within 300 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,806

 

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 10 countries of my lifetime total.

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 62

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 5.29

 

 

That’s all folks!  Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 


Leave a Reply