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Las Vegas Motor Speedway

las vegas sign 94

Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada

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From the travels and adventures of the “World’s #1 Trackchaser”
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Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1.5-mile – asphalt mile oval – Lifetime track #292

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1/2-mile – dirt oval – Lifetime track #296

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Road Course (parking lot) – Lifetime track #790

Bulling at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1/2-mile – asphalt oval – Lifetime track #1,049

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Stadium off-road dirt road course – Lifetime track #1,507

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1/4-mile asphalt oval – Lifetime track #1,525

HighlightsThe NASCAR trackThe Dirt TrackParking Lot Road CourseThe Bull RingStadium Off-RoadThe Little Oval

LVMS big oval racing 

Somewhat incredibly I have seen six different racetracks at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  However, I did have to go back to the facility six separate times to collect those six tracks.

 

 

I guess I have a special relationship with “Vegas” for trackchasing.  In addition to the six tracks I’ve seen at LVMS I’ve also seen four more Las Vegas tracks.  That makes ten different tracks in one city!  No one has ever done that.

 

 

The other four Vegas tracks were the old Craig Road Speedway, the Indy car race through the streets of downtown, another Indy car race out near the airport and the World Formula 1 race in the Caesar’s Palace Parking lot back in the early 80s.


I have a long and storied history with Las Vegas.  I first came here in 1973 during the summer.  It was 100-degrees at midnight!  Then in 1974 part of my Phoenix based sales territory included Las Vegas.  I would spend one full week in Las Vegas every month.  My good friend and college fraternity brother, Jim Hammer, lived there.  I would work during the day and when the clock struck five Jim and I were off to the casinos to gamble, eat and drink.



Over the years I have been involved with several Las Vegas investments with Jim Hammer.  The success of those ventures went a long way in creating a very comfortable lifestyle and early retirement.

 

 

As a city Las Vegas has changed about 1,000% from the early 70s until today.  Back in the day I loved Las Vegas.  I could walk across the street front the 10-gate airport to get my rental car.  I stayed in hotel with “six” in their name (Hylander 6, not Motel 6) where the price was actually six dollars a night!  I’ve seen many many shows in Vegas and chowed down on my share of Las Vegas buffets.

 

Las Vegas crowds 

Today I am not a big fan of Las Vegas.  It is simply too crowded.  You can wait ten minutes at a stop light.  It might take 45 minutes to check into your hotel.  Heck, you hotel room might be a five-minute walk from the elevator!  Yes, Las Vegas is too crowded but obviously not so crowded I won’t come back to see another racetrack.  I’ve seen six tracks at the LVMS but I might be able to add a seventh some day as well.

 

 

You might have remembrances about the racing in Las Vegas.  If so, please feel free to share in the comments section below.  If you have any photos from back in the day, send them to me at Ranlay@yahoo.com.  I’ll try to include them here.

 

 

 

lvms indy car racing

The Big Oval.

 

I attended the first ever auto race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 15, 1996.  The Indy Car race was one by the unlikely Richie Hearn.  However, I don’t remember much about the race.  What do I remember about the event?  The traffic!

 

 

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is located about 12 miles north of downtown Las Vegas.  How long would it take to drive 12 miles.  On the first day that LVMS would hold a race it would take a long time!  How does three hours sound?  Yes, it took three hours to cover 12 miles.  Never in all of my trackchasing have I ever been in such bad traffic.

 

 

I was very much looking because my Las Vegas buddy and long-time friend from college has scored complimentary tickets in a special suite.  However, when we finally did arrive at the racetrack we dissevered our suite had not yet been finished.  The track has been rushing to complete everything for their first big race.  Unfortunately, they didn’t get everything done.  We ended up grabbing a seat in the packed main grandstand.

 

 

lvms empty grandstand indy cars

I am not a big Indy Car fan.  I can’t remember much good about the track.  This was just my 292nd lifetime track.  I hadn’t yet begun writing my famous Trackchaser Reports at the time.  I have been to a few inaugural events.  Normally, they are very popular before demand in many cases drops off a cliff.  That was the case the Indy Car racing at Las Vegas.  In 1996 for their first event they sold out.  The very next year the Indy Cars drew just 10,000 people for their race and were later dropped from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway schedule.

 

 

Oh yes.  I have one more memory of the first ever day of racing at the LVMS.  It was the traffic getting OUT of the track.  We sat in the parking lot not moving for THREE #$%#^ hours.  OMG.  Cell phones were relatively new back then.  I was trying to change my reservation to get an earlier flight out of Las Vegas.  I was on hold forever with Southwest Airlines.  Finally, I reached a live person and was about to consummate my plans.  Just at the wrong time my cellphone battery died!  Nevertheless, when I arrived at the airport I was able to get the last seat on the last plane out of Las Vegas.  I did return to the “big track” at Vegas in 2000 and 2010.

 

lvms sprint cars

 

The Dirt Oval.

 

 

 

Just six weeks and seeing my first race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway I came back to see the World of Outlaws sprint cars on the half-mile dirt track.  Mark Kinser won that race.

 

 

For some reason I have never been a big fan of the Las Vegas dirt track.  I can’t really say why for sure.  Maybe it’s because the races are often held in the fall when the temperatures are falling fast in the desert.  Maybe it’s the track surface that I consider to be dry and bumpy.  Maybe it’s because this seems to be a “horsepower” track and I ‘ve never seen much side-by-side racing.  For whatever reason I am not a fan of this facility.  It’s well-lit and has a huge grandstand.  Maybe I’ll venture back over there for the big modified show they have each year.

 

Reprinted from my November 7, 2004 Trackchaser Report

 

 

GREETINGS FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA,

 

jury duty 

JURY DUTY UPDATE

When I left you last week, I was headed for jury duty.  On Wednesday of this week, I showed up with about 400 other citizens intent on doing their civic duty at the Orange County Courthouse.  The Orange County court system is the fourth biggest court in the United States.  

 

 

I arrived at the courthouse at 7:45 a.m.  After check-in, court personnel began to call out names for people to be interviewed as potential jurors for both criminal and civil trials.  There were three trials expected to last approximately 10 days.  Any potential juror with a “prepaid vacation” airline ticket was excused from a trial of that length.  Without giving away any of my future trackchasing plans, I can only say that I was not eligible for any of the 10-day trials because of the prepaid vacation exclusion.

 

 

My name was not called for an interview until 3 p.m. in the afternoon.  I spent more than seven hours reading my Wall Street Journals and Golf Digest magazines.   Finally, me name was called.  Just as I was about to enter the courtroom with about 40 other potential jurors the bailiff came out of the courtroom.  He announced the defendant had just pled guilty and they would not need a jury.  That meant my jury duty had been satisfied.  I could not be called for jury duty for at least one more year.  All right!  That meant I would not have to use my “jury nullification” strategy.  Now, I can concentrate on breaking this trackchasing record.

 

 

AND THE READERS RESPOND

 

Recently, I mentioned that I felt my background qualified me to be considered a “southerner”.  Kindred P, a resident of Clearwater, Florida and former Virginia native responded with this comment:

 

 

“Whatever you are you’re NOT a southerner–I always thought you were a Hoosier, in speech, manner, & demeanor.”

 

 

O.K., so maybe I’m not really a southerner.  Nevertheless, I did grow up in Illinois, and I’m not sure it’s a compliment to be called a “Hoosier”. 

 

 

I also received this comment from a former Georgia resident, about the chain gang, I saw working along the Georgia interstate and another comment about my visit to a Waffle King in Georgia:

 

 

“We believe our prisoners should work, not go to internet law school & clog our judiciary.”

 

 

“Waffle King founder is (the) ex-son-in-law of (the) Waffle House founder. He got on national TV at the Super Bowl with a lady other than his wife who was at daddy’s watching the game.”

 

 

We had dinner with our daughter Kristy last weekend.  Her boyfriend, James, is from Madison, Wisconsin.  James is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan law school.  Kristy tells me that James is most interested in fellow Wisconsin graduate, Ed Esser’s trackchasing results.  James favorite section of these trackchaser reports is the “Ed Esser update”. 

 

 

THE CHASE FOR THE 2004 CHAMPIONSHIP

A twelve-track lead over Ed Esser might seem like a comfortable advantage.  There is no comfortable lead against Ed.  While I was having a college football weekend last week, what did Ed do?  He drove from Wisconsin down to Texas and Oklahoma and picked up three more tracks.  He would have gotten four except for bad weather.  Ed has a Wisconsin football game this weekend and then he’s off for more trackchasing.  I would guess I would have to get several more tracks, if I expect to keep my lead over Ed this year.

 

 

Here are the 2004 leading trackchasers and number of tracks seen

 

RANDY LEWIS, San Clemente, California – 108  

ED ESSER, Madison, Wisconsin – 96 

ROLAND VANDEN EYNDE, Vilvoorde, Belgium – 83

ANDY SIVI, Clairton, Pennsylvania – 66 

ROGER FERRELL, Majentica, Indiana – 60 

WILL WHITE, Quakertown, Pennsylvania – 59

 

 

Since the last update, Ed added three new tracks; Andy added eight tracks which moved him into fourth place. Roger moved into fifth place for the season.  Over the last two weekends, I’ve had football conflicts but have been able to salvage the week with a new track on each Sunday.  Getting at least one track is important to keeping my challengers behind me.  If Ed was to get three tracks per weekend and I didn’t get any, he could erase my 12-track lead in just four weeks.  However, if Ed gets three tracks each week and I get one track per week, it would take Ed six weeks to catch me.  That means, if I can get at least one new track per week, it will take Ed 50% longer to catch up that if I didn’t see any tracks.  It’s just like running laps on a quarter mile high school track.  You can catch someone much faster if they are stopped than if they are even walking at a slow pace.

 

 

THE CHASE FOR THE ALL-TIME TRACKCHASER RECORD FOR NEW TRACKS IN ONE YEAR

 

7 to go!

 

Just seven more tracks to go to break the all-time new tracks in one-year record of 114.  Because of my commitment to UCLA football over the past two weekends, I went to one new track last week and one new track this week.  There are only seven more weekends in 2004.  I’ll have to average at least one new track in each of those weekends to break the record.  If I am rained out somewhere along the line, then I may not have enough tracks to break Ed Esser’s all-time new tracks record.

 

 

PEOPLE/TRAVEL NEWS 

I’m happy to announce that the “littlest trackchaser” aka wife Carol, will be joining me on this trackchasing trip.  I’m not sure what her motivations are.  Is she most interested in seeing the UCLA football game?  Is she most interested in seeing the road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway?  On the other hand, is she most interested in making sure I don’t abuse her Jaguar during the 681-mile roundtrip drive to “Vegas”.

 

 

This is my 22nd racing trip of the year (18 flying and 4 driving).  Carol has joined me on six of those trips.  Of those six trips, only one was a traditional racing trip.  The others were tied into personal trips such as weddings, trips to visit friends, trips to stay over in cities like New Orleans and Las Vegas.  It’s always fun to have Carol along on the trip.  I feel better when we have something planned before or after the racing.  Otherwise the racing itself may not justify the trip on the racing’s entertainment value alone.

 

 

This trackchasing trip has an interim stop before we head over to Vegas for my 790th lifetime track.  On Saturday afternoon, we visited the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  The Rose Bowl is where UCLA plays their home football games.  This sports venue is ringed in mountains that are snow-capped after fall and winter rainfalls.  Normally, it’s warm and clear and just a gorgeous setting to watch a game.  Today was such a day.  Contrast this with usc’s home football location.  They play at the Los Angeles Coliseum in crime invested south central Los Angeles in a decrepit old stadium.

 

 

Today we went to the game with our good friends the Moody’s.  We were joined by the Moody’s two children, Brian and Alison (both UCLA grads) and Brian’s wife Melissa (Northern Arizona grad) and Alison’s boyfriend, Todd (Iowa State grad).  Other than the fact that the UCLA Bruins fumbled the opening kickoff, and the fact they allowed their opponent, the Washington State Huskies, to score a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the first 18 seconds of the game, and the fact that UCLA trailed for the entire game, and the fact that the Bruins failed on a two point conversion attempt to tie the game with less than one minute to go and the final fact that the Bruins, although a 14-point favorite ended up losing the game 31-29, we had a super outing!

 

 

The one major highlight for me today at the Rose Bowl was an announcement made on the Jumbotron.  At about three o’clock, they showed the University of Wisconsin score.  Wisconsin was leading and their game was in the third quarter in Madison, Wisconsin.  That means that Wisconsin was playing football at 5 p.m. central time and their game would not wind up until after 6 p.m.  Ed Esser should be at that game.  It would be unlikely that he would see any tracks on Saturday night.  There is always a silver lining in every dark cloud.

 

 

Following the game, the eight of us went out for a delicious and delightful Mexican dinner.  We had a lively discussion about the various California amendments that were voted on during last week’s elections.  An example of the proposed amendments included:

 

 

Should the “three strikes” law be revised which currently puts any criminal, who commits three felonies, away for at least 25 years.  Some criminals have had their third strike be a crime as minor as writing a bad check and they are sent away for twenty-five years.  I must admit that my point of view at our dinner table was frequently in the minority, just like it often is with trackchaser debates.  I like arguing for the little guy.  By the way, Californians voted to leave the three strikes laws unchanged.  I voted to change the law.

 

 

Should people who make more than $1 million per year, have all of their income over that amount taxed 1% to support mental health programs?  Californians voted they should and I did too.

 

 

Should the state pay for stem cell research?  Californians, voted yes on this and so did I.  Most of my tablemates disagreed with me.

 

 

Should gambling be expanded in California.  Californians, voted no and I supported gambling expansion.  I’ll all for regressive taxation.  My tablemates apparently are not big gamblers and voted against expansion.

 

 

So, as you can see we had lots to talk about and it was fun hearing everyone’s view and why they felt that way.  We also spent some time talking about why the Moody’s have never allowed us to ride in the BMW 745i, but that’s story for another time.

 

motel 6 barstow 

Following dinner Carol and I were off to our overnight stop at the Motel 6 in Barstow, California.  Motel 6s are a good place to stay when you arrive late and leave early the next morning.  Barstow is a midway point to stop on the way to Vegas.  Our drive will be about 150 miles on Sunday morning for our race.  We did stop in Baker, California, home of the world’s tallest thermometer, for a quick fast food breakfast.  We saw something in Baker that we had never seen before in the United States.  Premium gas was selling for $3.02 a gallon.  Barb and/or P.J., ever seen gas that high anywhere in the U.S.?

 

 

This is a perfect trackchasing trip for me to include Carol on.  First, the coming and going isn’t too time consuming.  Secondly, there’s not too much racing, so Carol as a general non-racing fan won’t get bored with the delays and rustic conditions. Thirdly, unlike a trip to Birmingham or Harrisburg or Des Moines or Albuquerque there will actually be some fun non-racing things to do.  Finally, with our only race being a day race, there will actually be time to enjoy the activities that are available in Las Vegas.

 

 

Following the race, we’ll stay over in Las Vegas on Sunday night.  By the way, it is excellent strategy to drive over to Las Vegas on Saturday and come back to SoCal on Monday.  The lion’s share of the SoCal to Vegas traffic leaves on Friday and comes back on Sunday. 

 

 

I booked our Las Vegas hotel on the internet.  I do virtually 100% of my travel shopping on line.  I really like www.sidestep.com.  Sidestep runs next to any online travel website I’m using such as Expedia, Hotwire or even direct sites such as Hertz, Avis, American Airlines or whatever.  After the direct sight gives you a price you can then check Sidestep to see if they and their travel partners can get you an even lower price.

 

 

Sidestep lets you know the specific hotel or airline they are quoting.  I’ve had good luck with Hotwire but they don’t tell you what brand of hotel, rental car or airline you’re going to get until after you commit. 

 

 

I wanted to get a nice hotel for Carol and I to stay at in Las Vegas.  Sidestep offered the MGM Grand for $99.  The MGM is a nice hotel, although a little on the large side, and the price seemed reasonable.  At the same time Hotwire offered an unnamed 4.5 star hotel for $106.  Maybe I could get a hotel even better than the MGM for just $7 more than the Sidestep offer.  I can never give Carol too much is my motto (I hope she’s reading this far down into the report).  I went with the $106 Hotwire hotel offer. What did I get?  The MGM!  So, as they say, “No good deed goes unpunished”, I paid $7 more for the MGM than I needed too.  I have the self-satisfaction of knowing I was trying my best to be a good husband.  

 

 

When we get the chance to see Vegas shows we like too.  Las Vegas has changed a lot since I first started coming here for business in 1974.  I used to consider myself an expert of Vegas.  I must admit that Las Vegas has passed me by.  It has been built up so big and so fast, that I no longer know the town.  That’s good!  It will give us a chance to begin visiting again because there’s so much to see and do. I’m surprised that Las Vegas has continued to grow the way it has with the expansion of casino style gambling everywhere else in the country, but it has.

 

 

We needed to choose what our Las Vegas show entertainment would be.  There are not as many performers playing on a Sunday night.  Friday and Saturday nights are the most popular for shows in Las Vegas.  On any given weekend, about 55% of all visitors to Las Vegas are from southern California.

 

 

We had a choice of three “name” performers tonight.  First, there was Celine Dion.  I wouldn’t mind seeing her, but the ticket prices are outrageous.  The tickets range in price from $87.50 to $200.  The lower price tickets appear to be a long way from the stage.  The second choice was Wayne Newton.  Wayne has been performing in Las Vegas for years.  He is a very popular act.  At $67.50, his tickets seemed a lttle more reasonable, at least compared to Miss Dion’s.    Many years ago Carol and I went to a Frank Sinatra show in Las Vegas and I was absolutely bored stiff.  I was fearful that Wayne Newton’s show would be like Frank Sinatra’s.  The final choice of big name entertainment was Bobby Vinton.  I feared that Bobby might celebrate his 100th birthday on stage and passed on that opportunity.

 

 

danny gans 

What to do?  We decided to go to the “Danny Gans” show at the Mirage.  I know that most of you have probably never heard of Danny Gans.  According to the Mirage web site, Mr. Gans has been voted the “Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year” on three different occasions.  He is the main act at the Mirage Hotel, which is one of the classiest hotels in Las Vegas. 

 

 

Jay Leno plays the Mirage from time to time and the tickets for his show run $85.  Leno’s tickets are $15 less than the $100 ticket price for Danny Gans.  Ray Romano also plays the Mirage and his tickets are priced at $80.  You are probably concluding that Las Vegas shows are not inexpensive.  You are right.  But, if the adage that “you get what you pay for” is true (and it is not always true), then the Danny Gans show should be a good one.

 

 

We’re back and we were very entertained by Danny Gans.  For nearly two hours, he did impersonations of famous singers of all eras.  He also did impersonations of famous people, all from a comic point of view.  My favorites were Rod Stewart, George Burns, Arnold Schwartzenager and Johnny Mathis.  Carol liked his rendition of the “Twelve days of Christmas”, which was done with a different celebrity voice for each day. 

 

 

I have a sense I’m not describing this to give you the full appreciation of this man’s talent.  Maybe this will seal the deal.  The theatre was sold out with a capacity of approximately 1,500 people at $100 a pop!  He plays five nights a week and every show is sold out.  Maybe that’s why he’s been named entertainer of the year in Las Vegas on multiple occasions. 

 

 

I actually felt that I was an unqualified audience member.  I don’t know much about music and I couldn’t decide if some of his musical impersonations were accurate or not because I didn’t know the original artist that well.  Danny Gans did a super job with the impersonations of the artists and celebrities I was familiar with.  I recommend the show.

 

 

lvms outside rc 

RACE TRACK NEWS:

 

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Outer Road Course is my 790th track and Carol’s 162nd track to meet or exceed all current trackchaser rules.  This is my 108th track of the season and Carol’s 15th.  This track is my 14th countable track in Nevada and my second trip to Nevada for racing this season.

 

 

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway has several countable tracks.  The most famous of their tracks is the 1.5-mile oval track that hosts the NASCAR Nextel Cup cars once a year.  I saw this track for it’s first ever race which featured the IRL Indy cars to a sold out grandstand.  There is also a road course inside the 1.5-mile oval.  LVMS  has a one-half mile dirt oval.  I saw the World of Outlaw sprint cars race on that track.  I have not seen racing on the inner oval of the dirt track or at the Las Vegas “Bullring” which is their one-half mile asphalt oval.  Both of those tracks will give us reason to come back to Las Vegas in the future.  We did take a close look at the dirt oval and the inner oval is no longer present.  Of course, a grader could make an inner oval in an hour or so.  The LVMS also had a major drag strip on property.  That track probably brings in more revenue than any of the other tracks.  Of course, as you all know, drag strips do not count in official trackchaser standings.

 

lvms outside rc racing 

Today’s countable track is the 2.4-mile outer road course. This track has been in existence for only a couple of years.  It is located just beyond turns one and two of the big oval.  The course is totally flat and you can see the cars for their entire tour around the track.

 

 

I’ve changed my mind about road course track counting.  I’ve said some derogatory things about road racing and I am officially retracting those statements.  I NOW LOVE ROAD RACING FOR TRACKCHASING PURPOSES.  Why would I say that?  Let me list the reasons.

 

 

  1. Road racing starts on time and stays on schedule.  Oval tracks are terrible in this regard, especially about staying on schedule.  As an example today, a car spun out.  The emergency vehicle went to scene, attached a rope to the racecar and pulled it back to the pits.  While the emergency vehicle and disabled racecar were using the racetrack to go to the pit area, the race continued.  Compare that to an oval track flagman who throws the yellow flag if a car gets loose and even looks like it might spin out.
  2. Road racing is much less likely to cancel because of bad weather than oval racing.  Today’s weather was bad.  It was 60 degrees, but the wind blew continuously at 20-30 M.P.H. and it rained intermittently.  I would not have played golf on a day like this.  An oval track would have cancelled, road racing would not.  We were able to sit in Carol’s car to watch the races.  This was critical to our enjoyment given the raw weather.
  3. Road racing does not cost much to attend.  At most of the road courses I have attended this year, there has been no admission charge.
  4. Road racing allows you to visit the pit area and see the racecars up close without an extra charge for the privilege.  Oval racing pit pass charges have really gotten out of hand.  The cost of a pit pass is sometimes twice the charge to enter the grandstands
  5. Almost all road racing is done in the day.  This makes road racing very trackchaser friendly.  I’ve seen 17 road courses this year and eleven of those tracks have also allowed me to see a day/night double.  Of the six road courses were I did not see a double, four were “West Coast” limited, meaning because there are no few tracks in the west, there were no other options to create a double.  I had one rain out which prevented a double and one Tuesday “Mid-week” limited double. 

 

 

I still don’t think much of the racing on a road course from a spectator point of view.  On the other hand, when an oval track takes 30 minutes to complete a 10 or 15-lap race, that type of racing is not entertaining either.

 

 

Because of the threatening weather conditions, a special driver’s meeting was held in the press building.  Carol and I attended.  Carol was the only woman in the meeting of 30 drivers and NASA personnel.  When asked if the event should continue, even in the rain, most drivers were strongly in favor of racing.  One driver even exclaimed that anyone who would race would be a “pussy”.  I share this with you only because Carol heard the same language. 

 

 

By the way, I am not a big fan of Las Vegas weather.  For five months, from May through September, the heat is unbearable.  Then from November through March, the weather can be cold, windy and rainy.  We have had a very difficult time scheduling golf outings in Las Vegas because of these conditions.

 

 

The first race was for open cockpit, Indy style racecars.  During their pace lap, it began to rain.  Carol said, “They’re not going to be able to race!”.  I asked why?  “Because the rain’s going to get the driver all wet”.  Of course, she was serious.  I just love the eight-year-old girl naiveté Carol brings to the party.  I say that in a 100% complimentary way.  No, make that 150%.  Of course, no race would ever be cancelled because the driver was getting wet. 

 

 

The seventeen Indy style cars ran a good 20 or 30-minute race.  We watched from the Jag.  The next race had three different classes racing.  This included the about 12 stock cars, 7 trucks and 8 sports cars.

 

 

There were three separate green flags to start the second race.  The three classes of racecars were each separated by about 100 yards.  The stocks cars were the first group followed by the trucks and sports cars.  If a trackchaser were there to count the trucks or sports cars, trackchaser rules would not allow it.  Racecars cannot start at different intervals.  Even though after all racecars have been give a green flag, they will all be on the track and racing together, a majority of voting trackchasers deem this not to be countable.  Skeptics might say a rule like this was implemented to discriminate against west coast off-road racing.  The reader must decide if this is true.

 

 

After the road racing was complete, we drove into the infield of the 1.5-mile oval that NASCAR uses.  This was a great time to see the NASCAR garages, fueling area and the V.I.P. camping area where NASCAR drivers hang out during their weekend.

 

 

As a side note, just about 10 miles before we arrived into Las Vegas, we noticed the “Las Vegas Karting Center”.  This looked like a serious flat asphalt road course for karts.  I’ll have to check into this layout to see what they are all about.

 

 

RACE TRACK FOOD:

The track featured only a “roach coach” food trailer.   We had lunch there and it was OK.  We did stop in Baker, California on the way home for lunch.  There is not much in Baker, but if you are adventuresome, I recommend the Mad Greek Café.  With 50 billboards leading up to the exit for the Mad Greek, you can’t miss it.  Try the gyros and fresh strawberry milkshake, their signature dessert.

 

 

RENTAL CAR UPDATE:

The Carol Lewis leased and Republican National Party sponsored Jaguar S-type transported us safely to Las Vegas and back.  Carol and I shared the driving duties.  She is a very good driver.  I am thankful for that. I am reminded that when Carol joins me on a race trip we are obligated to listen to Rush Limbaugh.  Due to strict marital treaties, I am not permitted to comment further.

 

 

ED ESSER & P.J. HOLLEBRAND UPDATE:

As of November 8, 2004, the battle for positions 7-10 in the worldwide trackchaser standings is as follows:

  1. Randy Lewis – 790
  2. P.J. Hollebrand – 788
  3. John Moore – 757 (Not updated since 1/1/04.  John will provide only one update to his total at the end of the year)
  4.  Ed Esser – 724

 

 

P.J. hasn’t had any trackchasing activity during the past month or so.

 

 

Ed added three tracks since the last update.  His Wisconsin Badgers are still undefeated.  He had a home football game this weekend, which should prevent him from doing much trackchasing.

 

 

CUMULATIVE DRIVING DISTANCES:

San Clemente, California – trip begins

Las Vegas, Nevada – 375 miles

San Clemente, California – 681 miles, trip ends

 

Cumulative miles driven in rental cars for 2004 trackchasing trips – 21,641

 

Cumulative miles driven in friend’s car for 2004 trackchasing trips – 907

 

Cumulative miles driven in our personal cars for 2004 trackchasing trips – 3,729

 

Cumulative miles driven for all trackchasing trips – 26,277

 

Cumulative air miles flown for all trackchasing trips – 72,188

 

Cumulative cruise ship miles for all trackchasing trips – 6,431 (estimated)

 

Cumulative miles traveled (car, air and ship) for all trackchasing trips – 104,896

 

 

Total miles driven in my personal car for all activities in 2004 – 8,912

 

 

TRACK ADMSSION PRICES (U.S. DOLLARS):

 

Las Vegas Motor Spdwy – Road Course – No charge

 

Total racetrack admissions – ZERO!

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

 

The California Outlaw

 

That’s all the news that’s fit to print from San Clemente where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average.

 

Planned new racetracks (on the last day of each racing trip I will post my tentative plans for my next trip)

 

I’m sorry that do to competitive reasons, I can no longer post my future trackchasing

plans.  My fellow competitor’s do not post their future plans which allows them to

keep their trackchasing research results to themselves.  I have been freely sharing all

of my trackchasing research since day one.  I even offer an Excel spreadsheet, which

lists every new track racing date opportunity that I know of.  I regret that I will no

longer be able to advise my trackchasing peers of where “The California Outlaw” will

be trackchasing. 

 

 

Effective January, 1, 2005, I will return to sharing my future trackchasing plans.

 

Reprinted from my June 3, 2006 Trackchaser Report

 

lvms bullring 

GREETINGS FROM PAHRUMP, NEVADA AND THEN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 

 

I WOKE UP IN SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA THIS MORNING. THIS IS WHAT TRANSPIRED TODAY.

 

 

 

 

CAROL NETS #250!!

 

SUMMARY OF “MILESTONE” TRACKCHASING ACHIEVEMENTS

# 1 – Davenport Speedway (1/4M) – Davenport, Iowa – circa 1970

 

# 50 – North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina (Neil Bonnett – winner) – April 21, 1985 

 

# 100 – Barford Raceway, Barford, England – August 6, 2000

 

# 150 – Southern Speedway, Hattiesburg, Mississippi – May 28, 2004

 

# 200 – Bay County Fair Derby Arena, Bay City, Michigan – August 10, 2005

 

#250 – Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada – June 3, 2006

 

 

PEOPLE/STRATEGY/TRAVEL NEWS

 

 

The Strategy

Over time, there have been some famous discoverers in the world.  Christopher Columbus discovered what would become the United States in 1492, Magellan discovered the Strait, Lewis and Clark discovered Route 66 and I discovered the trackchasing Geographical Driving Circle.

 

 

The Geographical Driving Circle is an imaginary circle drawn around each trackchasers home.  The radius of that circle is what a trackchaser might consider a day’s driving distance.  For me that’s about 500 miles.  When the trackchaser has seen nearly all of the tracks within his or her GDC, then in order to see another track, then he or she must drive beyond their circle.

 

 

For some reason, I have found that folks don’t want to spend an entire day driving without being able to see a new track.  They also don’t want to spend another full day on the back end of the trip returning home without seeing a new track.  Of course, anyone who is impacted by their own personal GDC could take to the airways and fly over their circle.  However, when my track totals are removed from the cumulative worldwide trackchasing numbers, less than 2% of tracks are seen with an airplane involved.

 

 

This does not mean that a trackchaser who finds few tracks remaining within his GDC will have to stop trackchasing all together.  It simply means they will not be able to trackchase at a rate that matches their own personal historical frequency.  Essentially, they are voting with their feet.  They don’t want to spend the time and/or the money to trackchase beyond their GDC.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  It’s simply a personal decision.  Of course, they can overcome this limitation by changing their mode of travel.

 

 

Yes, I will forever be remembered in trackchasing circles as uncovering this mythical electronic fence which prevents many trackchasers from trackchasing with their historical frequency.  How did I discover this and who was the first person impacted by the GDC?

 

 

Contrary to what some believe, this was not some West coast conspiracy designed to frustrate experienced East coast trackchasers.  The GDC theory, at first, was not directed at anyone living east of the Mississippi.  I was the first person impacted by the Geographical Driving Circle. 

 

 

Living in California since 1983, (I had 138 tracks when we moved back to the Golden state) I was bounded on nearly all sides by a barren trackchasing landscape.  On the west was the Pacific Ocean.  To the south was the country of Mexico with nearly no countable tracks (I still have never seen a track in Mexico).  To the north and west were hundreds of miles of desert with very few racetracks to be found.

 

 

When did I discover the Geographical Driving Circle?  One Saturday morning, I gassed up the Carol Lewis owned, Life of Virginia sponsored racing Lexus.  I packed an egg salad sandwich and a few Diet Cokes and started to back out of the garage on a driving trackchaser trip.  All of a sudden, I realized I didn’t know where I was heading for that morning.  There didn’t seem to be very many trackchasing choices within 500 miles of my Southern California home.

 

 

Well, I could just keep driving beyond a day’s driving distance (about 500 miles) but Carol wanted me home that night.  Also, it would be sort of expensive to be driving that far out and back.  I didn’t back out of the garage that day.  I didn’t go trackchasing.  Instead, I took my brown bag that contained my egg salad sandwich and Diet Cokes and went to the backyard (that’s when we had a backyard) and sat down on one of our chaise lounge chairs.  I begin to think.  Then, I began to think some more.

 

 

I wanted to continue with my hobby of trackchasing.  However, I didn’t want to be driving miles and miles just to get to my first track of the trip.  What could I do?  All of a sudden, an airplane flew overhead.  (Light pops on in my head!).  Yes, airplanes!  I would use airplanes to conquer the trackchasing world.

 

 

All of this leads into our trackchasing trip today.  Carol and I are going to the very last track that races on a weekly basis (as far as I know) within my 500-mile Geographic Driving Circle.  You can read about it in the “The Trip” section of the Trackchaser Report.

 

 

Driving to Vegas 

The Trip

We’re headed today to the Bullring at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The Bullring races weekly on Saturday nights in Sin city.  Las Vegas is 288 miles from San Clemente.  We’ll also stop by a road course in Pahrump, Nevada.  Pahrump is just a little more than an hour from Las Vegas.

 

 

I have no more weekly tracks within 500 miles of my home.  This means that if I drove to my tracks, I would have to leave my house, drive my 500 miles and get a hotel, all without ever reaching my first track of the trip.

 

 

Not only are the nearest weekly tracks beyond my 500-mile GDC driving radius, they are quite a bit beyond it.  These are the three tracks located nearest me:

 

 

Gallup Speedway Park, Gallup, New Mexico – 702 miles

Uranium Capital Speedway, Grants, New Mexico – 731 miles

Siskiyou Motor Speedway, Yreka, California -738 miles

 

 

Those tracks are all pretty good hauls from San Clemente.  Can you imagine driving 738 miles one-way in the state where you reside just to get to a new track?  You won’t be seeing very many driving trackchasing trips emanating out of the San Clemente area after this one.  Of course, there are still a few tracks within my GDC that race once or just a few times a year.  I’ll still try to get those when I can.

 

 

Golden nugget casino 

We stayed in downtown Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Hotel.  We like staying downtown.  The traffic and people congestion is less and we can get out to the “Strip” when we need too.  The rooms are all recently remodeled at the Gold Nugget and very large.  I strongly recommend their Sunday Champagne brunch.  It runs from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Yes, 10 p.m. 

 

 

There was only one issue with the Golden Nugget.  I discovered this problem after putting sun tan lotion on Carol’s back.  I sent her off to the pool while I watched some golf action on TV.  In a matter of minutes, she was back in the room.  She must have missed me?  No, the pool is closed for remodeling.  Bummer!

 

 

As often as we can, we like to experience the local color of each area we visit while trackchasing.  That’s not difficult to do in Las Vegas.  We stayed over an extra night so we could be with J.J. and see a Vegas show on the famous Las Vegas strip.

 

 

Las Vegas is much more crowded on Friday and Saturday nights than the remaining days of the week.  Slightly more than 50% of Las Vegas visitors are from Southern California on any given weekend.  The worst traffic is Friday afternoon when going to Vegas and Sunday night when returning to SoCal.  By leaving Saturday morning and returning home Monday morning, we were able to be most of the traffic.  Yes, it’s great to be retired.

 

 

cirque de soleil O 

J.J., Carol and I went to the Bellagio Resort and Casino for dinner and our show.  I had ordered tickets to “O”, the Cirque du Soleil (French translation:  Circus of the sun).  I had heard great things about this show.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  When the show was over, all three of us agreed on this thought, “This is one of the best shows we’ve ever seen.”  We also agreed that it would be impossible to accurately describe what we saw.  You all know, I get to some very unusual and unique entertainment venues in my travels.  With that in mind, I hope you all have the chance to see one of the Cirque du Soleil shows someday.

 

 

Our seats were in the 10th row of a 2,500-seat theatre.  When I visit shows like this, I’d rather go once and have great seats than twice with marginal seats.  On the other hand, I’d rather fly coach class twice than first class once, if the costs were comparable.

 

 

We enjoyed our trip to Vegas, most especially since we had some time with J.J.  However, coming to Las Vegas in June is definitely not my first preference.  With high temperatures of 105-110 each day, it was WAY to hot.

 

 

The People

The primary reason for our visit to southern Nevada on this particular weekend is to visit our son, J.J.  He is living in Las Vegas and working as an airplane flight instructor.  He’s building up his flight hours in hopes of landing a pilot’s job with a commercial airline.  If all goes well, he hopes to get that job in the very near future.

 

 

I guess his becoming an airline pilot is happening just in the nick of time.  Why would that be?  I’ve just seen the last weekly track within my Geographical Driving Circle.  Parents of pilots get to fly for free!  Are you starting to see the connection?  If we’re not going to be doing many more driving trackchasing trips, wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to fly for free?  I think so.

 

 

 

RACE TRACK STATS:

 

SPRING MOUNTAIN MOTORSPORTS RANCH, PAHRUMP, NEVADA – TRACK #1,048 (CAROL’S TRACK #249) – 6/3/06

 

 

This was my 16th lifetime track to see in the Silver state and Carol’s ninth.

 

 

lvms bullring logo 

THE BULLRING AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – TRACK #1,049 (CAROL’S TRACK #250) – 6/3/06

 

 

This was my 17th lifetime track to see in the Silver state and Carol’s tenth.  I rank #2 and Carol stands in third spot in Nevada.  The West Coast’s premier regional trackchaser, Gary Jacob leads the state with 20 tracks.

 

 

As noted above, this was Carol’s 250th new track.  She was the leading trackchasing woman during the 2005 season and leads again in ’06.  She’s had a productive season already and expects to pad her totals in the coming months.

 

 

RACE TRACK NEWS:

 

 

 

SPRING MOUNTAIN MOTORSPORTS RANCH

This facility was built in the last couple of years.  I have not confirmed that any countable racing has ever been conducted at Spring Mountain before today.  The website shows several test dates and other non-countable activities only.

 

 

Today’s races were sanctioned by the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA).  VARA had a date set for 2005 but cancelled at the last minute due to a conflict over insurance.  Here’s what the website has to say about the track:

 

 

Our track consists of various different configurations within one 2.2-mile road course and has a 37-foot minimum width throughout. The length of the upper road course is 1.5 miles and has elevation changes totaling approximately 50 feet. It consists of seven corners, one of which is an exact duplicate of the hairpin at Mosport (corners 5A and 5B), known as Moss corner.

 

 

The day’s schedule called for the first of five races to begin at 1 p.m.  We pulled into the parking lot just at 12:50 p.m.  The website gave these directions to the track, “We’re at the entrance to Pahrump.”  Wouldn’t that depend upon which direction you were entering the town of Pahrump from?

 

 

The track is located on the east side of town.  Even though it’s within yards of the highway, it has a very low profile.  You don’t see the facility until you’ve nearly passed it.  Actually, it looks like a campground from the highway.  You can see all the racecar haulers but virtually none of the actual racecourse.  Most of the course is located beyond the campground looking area and far away from the highway.

 

 

I am almost never impressed with the viewing capabilities of road courses.  The Spring Mountain track is one of the worst I’ve ever seen or not seen as the case may be.  Imagine a narrow winding ribbon of asphalt in the middle of the Nevada dessert and you have this track.  There is desert shrub all about and it blocks the view of the cars from the two spectator grandstands on all but about 20 seconds of each lap.

 

 

Pahrump’s forecasted high for the day was 101 degrees.  It was that temperature when we pulled into the fully asphalted paddock area.  It was nice to have an asphalt pit area, but maybe not on a 101-degree day.  There were no trees within shouting distance.  It was bright and hot.

 

 

There were two small aluminum grandstands.  One was about 100 yards out into the desert and the other at the far end of the paddock.  We watched race one (mainly Porches) and race two (open wheeled Indy style cars) from each of these grandstands.  We could see so little it was not very entertaining at all.

 

 

Nevertheless, we were lucky to see a track on what might have been their first ever countable racing day.  For the racing to be within 63 miles of another new track opportunity that was within driving distance of San Clemente was even better.  We drove by the Pahrump Valley Speedway (I’ve already been there) located just a mile or two from Spring Mountain.  They were racing both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend.  The novice Nevada trackchaser could have gotten an easy two-day, three-track weekend with time enough to see a Vegas show to boot.

 

 

CAROL’S COMMENTS

 

SPRING MOUNTAIN MOTORSPORTS RANCH

The track is in the middle of nowhere.  They’ve laid a lot of asphalt to make a smooth pit area.  I liked the two mini-grandstands.  The cars are nice and they seemed to make some passes.  I liked seeing the two spins.  There weren’t very many females her today.  The car haulers were a little downscale compared to what I’ve seen at other road courses this year.  This sounds sick, but for 115 degrees, it didn’t seem that bad.  (Editor’s note:  The Lexus’ thermometer did show 115 degrees while we sat on the asphalt paddock area.)

 

 

lvms bullring racing 

THE BULLRING AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

The admission pricing schedule was somewhat unusual.  Non-Residents were $12, Locals – $10 and Seniors – $8.  A free color 16-page program that included names, numbers and current point standings was handed out for free. 

 

 

This track is owned and operated by Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Incorporated.  They own Nextel Cup tracks in Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas among others.  You can always count on their places to be above average in creature comforts and organization.  The Bullring was no exception.

 

 

The grandstands were huge.  They even had an elevator that took folks from ground level to the press box.  We sat in the top row of the stands some 40 rows or so from the racetrack level.  The P.A. was good and the dual announcers both knowledgeable about the local racing and entertaining to the crowd.  This is a key combination.

 

 

The concession pricing was weird.  I bought a 20 oz. Diet Coke in a plastic bottle for $1.00.  Carol’s 20 oz. bottled water was $3.50.  Couldn’t Carol add a few chemicals to her system just for once?  Nope!

 

 

I must say I’ve never been very appreciative of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway website.  For today’s scheduled starting time they simply said, “5 p.m.”  It was 106 degrees, the hottest part of the day, at 5 p.m.  I didn’t think they would begin racing at that time.  We showed up at 8 p.m.  The crowd was on its feet for the National Anthem then.  The printed race program called for racing to begin at 7:30 p.m.

 

 

The first event of the night was a six car Super Late Model trophy dash.  It was most unusual for a most unusual reason.  A New York sounding, long-haired psychic was involved!  He had made a prediction about this race.  His prediction was locked inside a padlocked box at the flag stand.

 

 

When the race was over, the psychic took over the microphone and went through the gyrations of opening the lock on the box and pulling out a two feet by three feet piece of paper with his predicted top 3 finishers scrawled in large black Magic Marker writing.  He had correctly picked the top three finishers, in order!  I was impressed.

 

 

It was 99 degrees at race time.  It was 93 degrees at midnight.  Vegas can be hot, baby!  The Bullring runs nearly a features only program.  The SLM trophy dash was the only exception.  Carol and I both love that.  I wish just about every track did it.

 

 

The car counts were good for the seven divisions.  Here’s how they stacked up (car count/feature laps) – Bandeleros (13/15), Thunder Roadsters (7/15), Legends semi-pro (19/25), Chargers (15/30), Legends (Pro and Master combined) (15/30) and Super Late Models (16/50).  We passed on the final event of the night for the IMCA modifieds.

 

 

The safety/track maintenance was absolutely second to none.  They had two brand spanking new red safety trucks that contained eight helmeted safety workers.  Whenever there was an incident on the track, these eight people were Johnny on the spot.  They were supported by THREE brand new YELLOW tow trucks that were equally as efficient.  SMI spares no expense.

 

 

I’ve been saving this track for a very long time.  We get to Vegas at least once a year.  I could have seen it many times previously.  However, it was great to be able to combine it with a visit with J.J. and a nearby afternoon track.  It doesn’t get any better than that. 

 

 

irwindale spdwy 

I consider the Irwindale Speedway to be the premier asphalt short track in the country.  However, I’ve only been to Irwindale four times since it opened in 1999.  It’s not because I don’t like going there, it’s because I’m rarely in SoCal on a Saturday night.  The Bullring at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway comes as close to Irwindale as any other asphalt short track I can think of.

 

 

They even have a road course go-kart track situated behind the grandstands of the Bullring.  They were racing there tonight, but only with flat karts.  The Las Vegas Kart Club operates that track.  More info about that group is at www.lvkc.com.

 

 

I met a guy standing in the concessions line wearing a racing t-shirt.  It advertised the Palmerstown North Showgrounds Speedway.  Where was that?  I asked him and his answer was New Zealand.  That would be fun to go to New Zealand.  We’ve been there but not for racing.  Maybe we’ll go there for Christmas; I mean, go there sometime.

 

 

CAROL’S COMMENTS

 

THE BULLRING AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

It was a warm evening (Editor’s note:  Carol can sometimes be a master of the understatement.)  This is a beautiful track, sort of a mini-NASCAR track.  They gave out lots of free shirts and had a good announcer.  There were many families here and the little girls came to dance. (Editor’s note:  During intermission, they invited everyone to dance to the music including the Macarena.) 

 

 

WEATHER CONDITIONS

In 1974, we lived for a year in Phoenix, Arizona.  The climate in Phoenix and Las Vegas is nearly identical.  In the summer time (like now!), it’s a blast furnace time.  I’ve worked in some mighty warm factories in my youth and none was hotter than today’s weather.

 

 

When we left the asphalt paddock area, the Lexus’ thermometer showed 115 degrees!  Yes, 115 degrees.  We motored over to Las Vegas and at nearly 5 p.m., it had “Cooled” to only 108.   

 

 

RENTAL CAR UPDATE:

No rental car on this trip.  We’ll be using the Carol Lewis owned Life of Virginia sponsored Racing Lexus 430.  I’ve traveled 79,809 miles for trackchasing this season.  Rental cars make up 14,229 of that total.  I’ve used my own car for only 1,734 of those miles and that includes this trip.  I’ve owned my Lexus for 30 months and have 31,909 miles on the car.  Even though I’m covering a lot of miles in the world of trackchasing, my personal car remains relatively unscathed.

 

 

The driving portion of this trip covered 772 miles.  We stopped for gas just once.  Nevada gas prices are about thirty cents lower per gallon than California.  I paid an average price of $3.25 per gallon.  The Lexus gave me 23.1 M.P.G. in fuel mileage with premium fuel at an average cost of 14.1 cents per mile. 

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER STANDINGS UPDATE:

 

 

These worldwide trackchasers are within 100 tracks (plus or minus) of my current trackchaser total.

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,049

2.  Rick Schneider – Bay Shore, New York – 1,039 (-10)

3.  Allan Brown, Comstock Park, Michigan – 1,021 (-28)

4.  Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 1,019 (-30)

5.  Andy Sivi, Clairton, Pennsylvania – 1,007 (-42)

6.  Gordon Killian, Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania – 1,001 (-48)

 

Other notables

 

These worldwide trackchasers are within 10 tracks (plus or minus) of Carol’s current trackchaser total.

 

38.  Spike Rixon, Watford, England – 252 (+2)

39.  Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California – 250

40.  Virginia Schuler, Allentown, Pennsylvania – 248 (-2)

41.  Steve Kinser, Bloomington, Indiana – 246 (-4)

 

 

 

2006 TRACKCHASER STANDINGS

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 58

2.  Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin – 34

3.  Roland Vanden Eynde, Vilvoorde, Belgium – 33

4.  Mike Knappenberger, Reading, Pennsylvania – 30

5.  Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California – 20

6.  Roger Ferrell, Majenica, Indiana – 19

6.  Paul Weisel, Orefield, Pennsylvania – 19

8.  Linda Thomas, Watford, England – 15

8.  Gordon Killian, Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania – 15

10.  Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 14

 

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

Randy Lewis

The World’s #1 Ranked Trackchaser

 

Eat all your sandwiches.  You’ll need them for the pursuit.

 

 

CUMULATIVE TRAVEL DISTANCES:

 

PERSONAL CAR

San Clemente, CA – Pahrump, NV – 294 miles

Pahrump, NV – Las Vegas, NV – 383 miles

Las Vegas, NV – San Clemente, CA – 772 miles

 

 

Total air miles – 0 miles

 

Total auto and air miles traveled on this trip – 772 miles

 

TRACK ADMSSION PRICES:

Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch – $5

The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – $8

 

Total race admissions for the trip – about $13

 

 

 

 

 

Reprinted from my February 23, 2009 Trackchaser Report

 

 

vegas suite 

DAYS 1-2 – “IT’S VEGAS BABY!” TRACKCHASING TOUR

 

EDITOR’S NOTE

I hope that the readers of the RANLAY Racing Trackchaser Report are either entertained and/or informed by what they see in these pages.  Most of my readers are not trackchasers.  They are a combination of friends, family and folks I have met along the trackchasing and traveling trails.  I hope that everyone has the opportunity to reapply the strategies I use in trackchasing for whatever useful purpose comes their way.  From time to time, I provide “RANLAY Racing Exclusives”.  These are meant to be critical thinking pieces on an important topic of the day.

 

 

man lighting cigas w $20 bill 

RANLAY RACING EXCLUSIVE

As many of you know, I am retired from the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company and have been since 2002.  However, I still work.  I just don’t get to work very much.  I am not allowed (by my spouse’s preferences) to do any chores whatsoever around the house.  Although I could fight that decision, I choose not to.

 

 

As I said, my real “work” is severely limited.  Actually, I work just two hours each year.  That’s about how much time it takes me to rebalance our stock and bond retirement portfolio.  The process is almost fully automated, so it might even take a little less than two hours.

 

 

I rebalance every year on October 11.  This year October 11 was on a Sunday.  Since the market was closed, I ended up rebalancing a couple of days earlier.

 

 

Anyway, as a special bonus to my loyal and ardent RANLAY Racing Trackchaser Report readers I always like to share some investment philosophies and strategies.  There are many ways to be successful in the investment world.  Some think a simple “dart board” approach will work.  If you’re lucky, it will.  However, if you’re the type of person who would like to have more than just luck working for you as you invest your life savings read on.

 

 

Before one retires, it’s a good idea to get a handle on how much money you expect to spend each year in retirement.  Then, you need to save enough money (I don’t mean “save” as in putting money into a bank) so you can live out your last days and years without ever having to work for money again.

 

 

Sometimes, on a lazy afternoon, I look back and wonder how I was able to accumulate enough funds so that I don’t have to work at all.  I don’t receive Social Security checks like that old Ed Esser (although I hope too some day).  I don’t receive a pension of any kind whatsoever.  We live on our personal savings, investments made over time and funds from our company’s profit sharing program.  When I left the company, they gave me what was in my profit sharing account and wished me well.  I don’t think there is a better company in the WORLD for achieving lifelong financial security than the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company.

 

 

So here I was back on July 1, 2002, a bright eyed and bushy-tailed wet behind the ears (metaphorically speaking) newly minted retiree with a few greenbacks in my back pocket.  Now I had to make sure those few dollars would last me through the next 40-50 years of retirement without ever having to go back to work again.

 

 

How would I make this happen?  First, I looked at Carol’s expenses.  That was only fair.  I would be flying all over the world seeing new racetracks.  That was going to be expensive.  We couldn’t BOTH be spending money.  Where in our budget could I cut her expenses?

 

 

I figured if she had her hair done every two years or so, that would be fine.  I looked in her closet.  She had plenty of stuff.  She could easily wear the same clothes she had from college, unless of course she gained weight.  That got me to thinking that maybe I should cut her food budget………..so I did.

 

 

After figuring out how much more money I would be spending in retirement and how much less money she would be spending, I had my retirement budget.  Now I simply had to invest our money (yes, California is a community property state) in a way that would generate the funds we would need for a lifetime without ever having to work again.

 

 

This may seem like a simple process and it can be.  However, for the untrained it is an impossible task.  If you fall into the “untrained” category, I highly recommend you get some competent help.  There are a million ways to invest your money.  I can’t talk about them here and stay within my self-imposed limited of 6,000 words for each Trackchaser Report.  Here’s what I did.

 

 

First, I wanted to have a fully diversified investment portfolio.  I’m a bit of a risk taker but I didn’t plan on going to Las Vegas with my retirement bankroll.  I subscribe to the William Bernstein theory of investing.  He is a proponent of low cost index allocations that focus on allocating your money based upon asset classes rather than individual stocks or bonds.  He is also anti-market timing.  If you would like to learn a bit more about Mr. Bernstein click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bernstein.

 

 

I am surprised by how many of my friends who don’t follow the stock market that closely and who swear they are not market timers……are really market timers.  Anybody who feels they know what the market is going to do tomorrow, next week or next year and then changes their investments based upon those feelings is a market timer!

 

 

I highly recommend the Bernstein book “The Intelligent Asset Allocator”.  If you read that, understand it and then implement those strategies you will have a bright financial future.

 

 

Armed with his teachings I went off to the Vanguard Group and gave them all of our money.  Yeah, that’s right.  I just wrote ‘em a check.  I had them invest it in six stock mutual funds and five bond mutual funds.  These funds charge extremely low management fees.  It’s incredible how little they charge.

 

 

O.K., just how incredible is it?  We have the biggest percentage of our funds in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund.  It makes up about 15% of our total portfolio.  This fund invests in more than 3,000 stocks representative of the whole U.S. market.  The fund’s expense ratio is 0.09%.  What does that mean?  They charge us $9 for every $10,000 we invest with this fund.  That’s it!  That’s how inexpensive it can be to invest in index funds.

 

 

Our six stock funds are mostly index funds.  Bernstein recommends index funds for their cost effectiveness.  As you probably know, index funds are groups of stocks that mimic indices like the S&P 500.  Our stock funds include U.S. based companies, foreign indices, small and large stocks groups and value and growth stock groups.

 

 

My five bond index funds include short-term, intermediate-term, long-term and junk bonds.  That pretty much covers all bond-investing groups.

 

 

I choose to put about 64% of my money in the stock funds and 36% in bond funds.  To some that might seem like an aggressive approach for a retiree.  However, I am only 60 years old.  My IRS life expectancy (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590.pdf) tells me, on average, I will live to be about 84 years old.  That would mean that if I were just AVERAGE I would have another 24.2 years to live.  That’s a long time in the investment world.  Heck, it’s a long time in the trackchasing world.  Carol might live even longer, especially now that she will be able to maintain a lesser weight since her food budget has been reduced.

 

 

Over the long run (since about 1930), stocks have earned about 10-12% each year.  I manage money for some friends and family.  What they sometimes forget is the fact that just because stocks AVERAGE 10% each year, that does not mean they will earn 10% each and every year.  Some years will be up 20-30% and some years will be down by like amounts.  Everyone’s most recent experience bears this unhappy statistic out.

 

 

Bonds average about 8-9% over the long run and U.S. treasuries average a return of a little less than 4%.  I figure with my allocation of stocks and bonds that my portfolio should average about 9-10% each year.  If it does then I will be “golden” as we used to say back on the block.

 

 

During my first six years of retirement, the results of my investing had mainly up years but a major down year.  Here is what my Return on Investment (ROI) was at the conclusion of my first six retirement years.

 

 

                         Annual Return         Annualized Return

Year 1                       22.8%                         22.8%

Year 2                       10.3%                         16.4%

Year 3                        9.6%                          14.1%

Year 4                        11.4%                         13.4%

Year 5                       15.9%                         13.9%

Year 6                       -24.1%                        6.5%

 

 

With the bruising “Year 6” in the books my annualized return on investment (ROI) had been reduced from a high-flying 13.9% to just 6.5% over the first six years of retirement.

 

 

Here’s what I said last year when my retirement portfolio had finished its first five years with a 13.9% annualized ROI.  “There was only one thing wrong with that.  My portfolio was designed to return only 9-10% each year.  It was sort of like a runner beating his best ever times for the first 20 miles of a 26-mile marathon by some 30 minutes.  In order to return to the “average” result the runner would invariably end up slowing dramatically.  That’s what would be expected of any portfolio that “got ahead of itself”.

 

 

Our “Year 6” results “helped” bring back our annualized results more toward what the portfolio is designed to return which is 9-10%.  However, “Year 6” brought things back a little too far!!  We ended up losing 24.1% of our retirement portfolio in “Year 6”.  Ouch!  No, I really mean it, “Ouch”.  Our sterling five-year results were 13.9%.  Now, after six years of retirement we were up only 6.5%.  Carol was surely going to have to cut back her spending on something……or maybe everything.

 

 

Now to the present…….I woke up on Friday morning, October 9 to find out that my retirement portfolio for the “Year 7” was up.  It was WAY up!  Thank goodness.  I don’t ever want to have to work for money again.  I’m done with that…..I hope.  “Year 7” was a good year for us.  Actually it was the best year of all so far.  During “Year 7” our retirement portfolio was up 24.6%.  I’m sure part of the reason for our great “Year 7” was the horrible “Year 6” results.  I might also remind any financial neophytes that going down 24.1% in a year like “Year 6” and then going up 24.6% in a year like “Year 7” does NOT bring you back to even.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.

 

 

Here’s what I said last year when I brought you the bad news that our portfolio had dropped some 24.1% in “Year 6”.

 

 

Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.  I simply had to remember that I am in this for the long run.  There will be good years and there will be bad years.  The market has fallen so much and so fast by my rebalance date that I feel fairly certain that the market will have a good year by the time the fiscal year ends on October 11, 2009.  If it does, after seven years of investing, I should be near the 9-10% my portfolio is expected to return.

 

 

On Monday morning, October 13, 2008 I went about rebalancing my portfolio.  Rebalancing simply means moving your money around so that your original allocation (for me 64% stocks, 36% bonds) is once again achieved.

 

 

With stocks doing so poorly this year, my allocation on October 13 was about 55% stocks and 45% bonds.  In order to get it back to the 64/36 split I would have to sell bonds and buy stocks. 

 

 

Wait just a minute here!  That means I would be buying stock funds when the prices were low (relative to where they were just a few months ago) and selling bonds when their prices were (relatively) high.  That’s right!

 

 

Most people feel like selling when the market goes down.  When the market starts steamrolling forward, and, everyone is talking about investing at the neighborhood Christmas party, they feel like buying.  Of course selling when the market is doing poorly and buying when the market is doing very well is exactly the WRONG thing to do.  If you’ve felt this way in the past don’t feel too bad.  It’s only logical, but wrong, to think that way.

 

 

I am happy to report with this year’s good results our year by year investment returns look like this:

 

                      Annual return          Annualized return

Year 1                       22.8%                         22.8%

Year 2                       10.3%                         16.4%

Year 3                        9.6%                          14.1%

Year 4                        11.4%                         13.4%

Year 5                       15.9%                         13.9%

Year 6                       -24.1%                        6.5%

Year 7                        24.6%                         8.9%

 

 

Our annualized ROI is now back up to 8.9%.  We didn’t panic and sell everything when the market went down big time.  We didn’t panic and begin buying after the market has come back up more than 50% since the 2008 bottoms.  We just gritted our teeth and held on.  That takes some discipline, but I follow the Bernstein theories.  Those theories are not rocket science and they are not science fiction.  They are just good common sense investing theories that have proven their worth over a very long investment timeframe.

 

 

My 2009 rebalance had me selling stocks and buying bonds.  Yes, during the past several months stocks have been going gangbusters.  However, this is what a “rebalance” does.  It has you selling what has done well recently and buying what has done “less well” recently.  It might seem somewhat counter-intuitive but it’s not.  There is a statistical concept called “reversion to the mean”.  In non-technical language it means that if your local baseball team wins about 60% of its games and they have just finishing winning 80% of their last 30 games, they are likely to “revert to the mean” and begin losing enough to get them back to their historical 60% success rate.

 

 

Let’s recap if you’re with me so far.  I won’t be looking at the market on a day-by-day basis.  I probably won’t look at it on a weekly or maybe even monthly basis.  My friends know that I have some knowledge of investing.  They will sometimes ask me what I thought of a particular move (up or down) in the market.  They seem astonished when I tell them I don’t know what they’re talking about!  This daily viewing is a waste of time and will only served to increase the wrinkles on your face.  I won’t think much about the market over the next year and I definitely won’t buy or sell anything (other than to cover living expenses) for another full year.

 

 

Now what will you do with all of this information?  Will you look at your spouse’s budget and cut like crazy?  Will you discuss this with your spouse or investment advisor?  Will you buy a William Bernstein investment book?   On the other hand, will you simply do nothing?

 

 

It’s your call.  I wish you the best.  I hope that everyone reading this Trackchaser Report can retire early if he or she wants.  I hope they can live to an age that surpasses their IRS life expectancy.  I hope they have enough money to buy a butterscotch sundae if they choose and still have enough money left over to provide for their family and give to a charity if that’s what they want to do.

 

 

 

Editor’s note

Too many people talking about money in public and even in private is taboo.  That is not the case for me.  I don’t know where I acquired this habit, my parents or grandparents never talked about money.  However, we frequently talked about money with our children and still do today.  They all say that has helped them.

 

 

There will always be people who have more money than I do and people who have less.  It doesn’t matter to me how much money I have relative to others.  I simply want to have enough money to do what I want to do without ever having to work “for the man” again.  Of course, no disrespect toward women here.  I had several fine women supervisors, one of which was even married to a stay at home husband.

 

 

To me, talking about money is no different from explaining to someone what I had for breakfast this morning.  I will say this.  When you hear money advice, or any advice for that matter, I recommend only taking advice from people who are doing better than you are in the area where the advice is being given.  When I go to a golf pro to take a lesson I listen and act on his/her (yes, I have taken lessons from women golf pros) advice.  Why in the world would I do that?  Because the golf pro can play golf better than I can!!

 

 

One last thing.  You might want to share the above with your spouse or significant other.  If you don’t, how else will they understand why their food portions seem a little smaller!

 

 

GREETINGS FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Las Vegas has been a very friendly trackchasing city for me.  I’ve seen more races in this town than any other. …………..details in “State Comparisons”.

 

 

What are the three biggest questions in trackchasing?………………more in “The Trip”.

 

 

My fraternity brother had drinks with me before heading out for lunch in Las Vegas with a famous person.  Who would that be? …………..details in “The People”.

 

 

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED HAD YOU BEEN PAYING MORE ATTENTION IN SCHOOL

 

THE BEST READERS IN RACING TAKE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE

 

These comments are in regards to our recent visit to Tijuana, Mexico.

From Texas

Randy,

You’re braver than me.  Or crazier.  I don’t know if I would travel to Juarez now, a place I’ve been several times.  In any case, I’m glad you two made it back safely. 

 

 

I love Mexico (I spent the summer traveling in Mexico in 1976 when I was a teacher/coach and had summers off), and I’ve always found the Mexican people to be incredibly friendly, helpful, and warm, as you did.  I think they well understand the concept of tourism, and how beneficial it is to welcome turistas. 

 

 

I agree, Viva la Mexico!

 

 

From California

Great report.  Glad you lived to tell about it!

 

 

Correction! 

 

There were more than 40 cars racing in Tijuana, including 23 in the “C” class.  I reported only 25-30.

 

 

THE OBJECTIVE, THE TRIP, THE PEOPLE…AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

 

 

The Objective

Killing two birds with one stone.

 

 

The objective of this weekend’s trip was to minimize travel.  I wanted to tie in our Las Vegas trackchasing adventure with a Las Vegas “show”.  This allowed us to “kill two birds with one stone”……or said another way, we would only have to make the 600+ mile round-trip drive to Vegas once rather than twice.

 

 

The Trip

 

I don’t wear out my car trackchasing.

There is one good thing about trackchasing from a home base in California.  It is not practical to drive to the races from home.  That means I must fly.  This also means that I won’t wear out my personal car from trackchasing.

 

 

I am not some big budgeted “Dreaded East Coast Trackchaser” that can afford to replace my car frequently after the “trackchasing wars” have turned it into a “panting molehill of tin and plastic”.  No, as a retiree I have to be fiscally prudent.  That means not using the “Carol Lewis owned and Life of Virginia sponsored Lexus LS 430” for trackchasing anymore than I must.

 

 

I fly quite a bit.

Coming into this trip I had used airplanes to complete 29 trackchasing round-trips this year.  I had driven to just three of my trackchasing forays.  For one of those trips I rented a car to drive up to rural Nevada for track #1 of 2009.  During the two trips when I did use “Trackchasing’s First Mother’s” car I didn’t put many miles on it.

 

 

Editor’s note

By the way, I do not own a personal car or a car of any kind.  “Trackchasing’s First Mother” is kind enough to allow me to drive one of her Lexus’ when I need a car.  I can’t go into the details about why I do not own a car.  If I told you I might have to kill you.  There are lots of unanswered questions in trackchasing.  The top three seem to be:

 

  1. 1.    Why doesn’t Ed Esser trackchase outside the U.S.?
  2. 2.    Who exactly are the “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers”?
  3. 3.    Why doesn’t Randy own a car?

 

 

The Trip (continued).

My first driving trip of the year had me going out to the Perris Auto Speedway to see their version of “Stadium Off-Road Racing” (158-miles).  The second time I used Carol’s car was last weekend for our trackchasing trip to Tijuana, Mexico (181-miles).  That brings us to this outing.

 

 

This is “Driving trip #4”.  It is also “Flying trip #30”.  Yes, it is my first “hybrid” trip of the year!  We drove the car out to Las Vegas and to tonight’s track (321 miles).  From Vegas I would fly to the East for more racing fun.  Carol is stuck, no I mean has the chore, no I mean she was talked into driving her car back to sunny San Clemente all by her lonesome……the sacrifices she makes for my humble enjoyment.

 

 

Since I won’t be using the car to get back to San Clemente my account cannot be “charged” with those trackchasing miles.  If Carol wants to open up her own website and write what has come to be known as a “blog” she can get credit for the miles she drives back to home.

 

 

The ride from our house to Las Vegas takes a bit less than five hours.  It’s right on the border of “should we drive or fly”.  The Las Vegas airport is a real “zoo”.  It is one of my least favorite airports.  Actually, Las Vegas is not really a favorite place of mine.  It just too big and crowded for my tastes.

 

 

mobster photos 

I have ‘friends’ in the Vegas world.

You see I first started coming here on business in 1973.  I remember visiting my fraternity brother, Jim, when he was first starting to learn how to deal craps.  Back in those days, I came to Vegas on Sunday night and stayed until Friday afternoon.  I did than once every month from my sales headquarter city of Phoenix.  Each night, all week, Jim and I would go out and gamble.  We normally played 6-8 hours a day for 4-5 days.  I do remember his first wife actually throwing a floor pot at him (us?) from a second story window when she didn’t think he should be going out on the town with me.  We went anyway.

 

 

Ah, yes.  I remember Jim’s first wife fondly.  Yes, I remember his second wife fondly too.  Now, he has settled down, as much as he can settle down anyway.  Wife #3 is working out just fine and his kids are in high school.  The stories we could tell…..and often do.

 

 

One cannot sleep well or live well, if one has not dined well.

Prior to heading out to the speedway, I used my iPhone app “Yelp” for an Indian food restaurant.  Soon we were entering the Mt. Everest India’s Cuisine (www.everestcuisine.net) restaurant.  I began to develop my interest in Indian food during my visits to Qatar and Dubai earlier this year.  Now, I love it.

 

 

The food at Mt. Everest was great.  The eatery is located near the “Strip” on West Sahara in Las Vegas.  I will definitely go there again for the Prawn Tikka Masala and garlic naan.  Our dessert of Gulab Jamun was just the way to finish off our meal.  I give a hearty RANLAY Racing Money Back Guarantee to the Mt. Everest India’s Cuisine restaurant.

 

 

The trip continued – Saturday

 

SATURDAY

On Saturday morning I was up at 4:55 a.m. in our luxury Las Vegas hotel.  I would be taking a cab to the airport ($28!) for a flight to Newark, NJ and then onto Greensboro, NC.  When Carol arose from slumber she would drive the car back to San Clemente.

 

 

The People

 

The ‘big hitter’.

My fraternity brother, who I have called “Jim” because that’s his name has gone onto “bigger and better” things.  Jim is a “big hitter” in Vegas.  After dealing craps for ten years in Las Vegas Jim got involved in real estate.  He got involved “real big” in real estate.  As a matter of fact, I have been a limited partner in several of his “deals”.  That is one of the reasons I was able to retire as early as I did.

 

 

Following our Vegas show (described below) Jim came over to our hotel for drinks.  I only get to see him a few times each year now.  I think wife #3 associates me with wives #1 and #2.  I plead the fifth!

 

 

Jim always keeps me posted on his latest business and people adventures.  He and I have one more deal going together right now.  If it works out I might actually be able to get that private jet I’ve been wanting all these years for trackchasing.  If it doesn’t I’m hoping one of those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” picks me up alongside the road as I hitchhike to the races.

 

 

Jim knows his share of famous people.  Tony LaRussa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals is one of Jim’s best friends.  Tony calls Jim, “Mr. Las Vegas” and once brought 19 big league managers (during the MLB trade talks in Las Vegas) to one of Jim’s charity fund raising events.  Be on the lookout for some “Beach Boys” themed restaurants.  Jim is spearheading that deal to begin in Las Vegas.  By the way, I told you that Jim is a Las Vegas “big hitter”.  He had the “Beach Boys” play IN HIS BACKYARD” for one of his charity events.  I call that a big hitter!

 

 

The first time I ever came to Las Vegas Jim picked a buddy of mine and me up at the airport.  We were coming back from a luxurious national sales meeting in downtown San Francisco.  This would be my first experience with 100-degree temperatures in Las Vegas……at midnight!

 

 

beat up vw bug 

Back then the airport had about 15 gates!  Jim was driving a very beat-up and used VW Beatle.  I remember my buddy chastising me for not picking up the one-dollar airport parking fee that Jim had to pay when we left the airport.  We went over to his one bedroom apartment in a questionable part of town.  On the coffee table of the sparsely furnished abode was a portable cassette tape recorder that played “How to deal craps”.  This was his “corporate” training program.

 

 

In those days we saw a lot of each other.  When we weren’t out gambling and chasing women……wait just a minute!  I need to clarify something.  Whenever we went gambling I was the only one that gambled.  Jim provided a 50% “stake” in whatever we chose to wager.  The game was always “blackjack”.  I can hardly ever recall us losing.  I put more time in learning the game of blackjack than anyone should.  If anyone wanted to played “single-deck” blackjack with me, it wouldn’t take long for me to have all of their money.  I may not be proud of that (maybe I am) but it was the truth.

 

 

While I gambled, Jim “chatted up” the ladies.  He was as good at this as I was at blackjack.  As Dizzy Dean often said, “It’s not bragging if it’s true or you can do it”.  Jim…..could do it.  When he returned to the blackjack table to see how I was doing he normally had a shirt pocket full of phone numbers.  Today he channels his people skills in a slightly more productive pursuit, thankfully.

 

 

When the evening was over and it was “early morning” we normally found a 24-hour breakfast place.  We would end up shooting the bull and splitting our gambling profits.  However, we never shared the phone numbers!

 

 

This evening he and I spent about two hours talking about the events of the day.  It was only midnight when we wrapped up.  I guess we are beginning to show our ages.  Just as we were leaving, he mentioned casually, “I’ve got to get going I’ve got a big luncheon meeting tomorrow.  Any ideas on who I’m having lunch with?”  I made a couple of guesses that appeared and were far off the mark.  “Bill Clinton” was his answer.  I was impressed.  However, when I told the somewhat “right-leaning” Trackchasing’s First Mother she made an uncharacteristically harsh comment.  Anyway, it was great seeing Jim as always.

 

 

TRACKCHASING TOURIST ATTRACTION

 

I very much enjoy the racing when I go on trackchasing trips.  However, I am not the type of person who would feel the trip was complete if I simply left home, went to the race and came back home.

 

 

I do a good deal of traveling.  I want to do my best to see the local area when I come for a visit.  There are usually unusual attractions that one area is noted for more than any other locale.  I want to see those places.  I want to touch them and feel them.  When I leave an area, I want to have memories of these special places that I call Trackchasing Tourist Attractions.  I will remember those experiences long after the checkered flag has fallen on whatever race I have seen that day.

 

 

Editor’s note

I had seen “Love” the Cirque de Soleil extravaganza back in April, 2008 (see track #1,329 – Pleasant Valley Raceway (inner), Boise, Idaho) with my college fraternity brothers during one of our spring golf outings.  I was sure Carol would like it despite the fact that she hates the Beatles.  Quite frequently when I analyze things I am right on the money.  Not tonight!  Although I liked the show (not as much as the first time, but I still enjoyed it) Carol did not.  When Carol doesn’t have a good time, I don’t have a good time.  Oh, well it was the thought that counts right?  Below is my review of the show from the first time I saw it.  I still recommend it highly.

 

 

mirage hotel 

LOVE Cirque du Soleil, Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’re looking for a show that’s a fusion of acrobatics, dance and visual effects, accompanied by a classic rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, then all you need is LOVE.  The show is a slightly psychedelic journey through the trends and politics of the ’60s and most importantly, The Beatles’ history, told through nearly 30 of the group’s songs.

 

 

The sound system is unlike any other – there are 6,341 speakers in the theater.  Besides The Beatles, the other star of the show is the 2,000-plus seat theater itself, which features 360-degree seating. There is not a bad seat in the house and the farthest is only 98 feet from the stage.  Our seats were in the fifth row.

 

 

Overall, I recommend this show 110%.  It’s difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t seen it.  All I can say is you will be widely entertained by the costumes, the acrobatics, the music and the entire scene.  If you get to Vegas, go out of your way to see this show.

 

 

RACE REVIEW

 

 

lvms off road course 

LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY – DIRT ROAD COURSE, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 

 

Las Vegas is my most prolific trackchasing town.

As mentioned in “State Comparisons” below, this was not my first rodeo in Las Vegas.  I’ve been trackchasing in the town many times dating to the 1970s.  Tonight I was here for the USAC Stadium Off-Road Event.  Yes, USAC is promoting events like this now.  The worm has turned.

 

 

lvms dirt oval 

The track.

Tonight’s dirt road course was held in front of the grandstand at the ½-mile dirt oval.  This is a first class facility with the best money can buy Musco lighting and a huge aluminum seat grandstand.  Admission was $17 per person.  Yes, most of these stadium off-road events are on the expensive side of short-track racing admissions.

 

 

The track itself used about one-half of the existing dirt oval.  There were 13 “jumps” and just two left turns and a major right hand turn outside of what the oval itself had to offer.  The jumps were not as big as I’ve seen on other courses of this nature.  Although a winning driver described the course as “one of the muddiest I’ve ever driven on”, during breaks in the action they watered the track.

 

P1500959 

I have been a big fan of “Stadium Off-Road Racing”.  At most of the events I have attended the race fields have been huge with lots of side by side racing.  There were wild flips galore and generally just an entertaining program.

 

 

They needed more competitors.

However, tonight the fields were slim.  Most had just 7-8 buggies/trucks.  I’m guessing the track was nearly one mile in length.  With so few competitors racing on a track like this that’s not good.  We didn’t see a single flip until we had had enough and decided to leave.

 

 

I think Stadium Off-Road Racing is really beginning to take-off as a spectator sport.  Most of these guys raced in the desert up to now.  The frequency of events will never threaten the plethora of country fair figure 8 racing in the Midwest or East.  Nevertheless, it will give the facility starved Far West a few more choices.  I’ll plan to see them all!

 

 

STATE COMPARISONS

 

Nevada

Tonight I saw racing at my 23rd lifetime Nevada racetrack.  This strengthens my first place ranking over deceased trackchaser Gary Jacob who has 20 tracks in the Silver state.  Youngster Carol Lewis added her 13th Nevada track to hold onto to third place in the state rankings.  No other trackchaser has seen more than eight tracks here.

 

 

Of the 23 tracks that I have seen in Nevada, tonight’s road course was the eighth I’ve seen in Las Vegas.  My first ever Las Vegas track was the old Craig Road Speedway.  I saw Dick Trickle race there sometime in the 1970s.  Prior to 1980 I did not keep track of the dates that I visited racetracks.  The Craig Road Speedway is credited with being my 60th lifetime track.  Back then who knew this trackchasing stuff would morph into what it has.

 

 

Then in 1981 I saw the World Formula One Grand Prix drivers race at Caesars Palace.  They raced in a parking lot!!  Danny Sullivan and Alan Jones were the winners over the two days of racing for Carol and me.  In 1996 I saw the first ever race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile asphalt oval.  This was an IRL race at the barely completed track.  We had tickets for a suite that was not yet complete so we had to sit out in the grandstand.  The place was absolutely packed and the traffic jam to the track took us three hours to go 12 miles from downtown.  The next year, with the inaugural event in every spectator’s rearview mirror, the IRL event drew just 10,000 people in the 75,000 seat grandstands.  Today, the IRL no longer runs at LVMS.  A couple of months later in 1996 I returned for racing on the LVMS dirt oval.  Mark Kinser won the World of Outlaws sprint car race that day.

 

 

It was not until 2004 that I saw my next event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex.  This was a NASA race on the permanent asphalt oval road-course beyond turns one and two, outside the main track.  In 2006, Carol and I saw racing at the “Bullring” a ½-mile asphalt oval at the LVMS.  Then a year later, in blazing heat, we was saw the IRL return to “Sin City” for the Vegas Grand Prix run on the streets of Las Vegas.

 

 

In 2007 we came back to Nevada for a race at the “Las Vegas International Off-Road Raceway”.  However, this race was not in Las Vegas but in Primm, Nevada.  Primm is some 30-40 miles from Las Vegas itself.

 

 

Tonight’s racing marks my eighth different track to see in the city limits of Las Vegas.  I have just two tracks remaining to be seen in the great state of Nevada.  Any guesses where those might be located?  If you guessed “Las Vegas” you would be correct!  I have yet to see the permanent asphalt oval road course located inside the 1.5-mile asphalt oval.  Additionally, the quarter-mile oval track that is partially connected to the 1.5-mile asphalt oval has yet to be conquered.  Are you confused yet?

 

 

Coming Soon – RANLAY Racing Exclusive Features!

Trackchasing politics revealed….they’re about ready to kill each other.

Who have been Randy’s three toughest trackchasing competitors? (October, 2009)

Should a “handicapping” system be used in trackchasing?

 

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

 

Randy Lewis

Alberta’s #1 Trackchaser

What would Jesus tweet?

 

 

TRAVEL DETAILS

 

PERSONAL CAR

San Clemente, CA – Las Vegas, NV – 321 miles

 

 

TRACK ADMSSION PRICES:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – $17

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS

 

There are no trackchasers currently within 200 tracks of my lifetime total.

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,507

 

 

 

Official end of RANLAY Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 

 

 

Reprinted from my February 28, 2010 Trackchaser Report

 

 

lvms legends on quarter mile 

DAYS 1-3 – “IT’S TIME TO (BELATELY) CELEBRATE OUR 38TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY” TRACKCHASING TOUR

 

 

GREETINGS FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

 

 

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Was this our best ever “Trackchasing Tourist Attraction”? …………..details in “Trackchasing Tourist Attraction”.

 

How in the world did I become injured at a Garth Brooks concert?………………more in “Trackchasing Tourist Attraction”.

 

We were coming to Las Vegas for a concert first, a NASCAR Sprint Cup race second and a countable new track, if they had one, last …………..details in “The Objective”.

 

TRACKCHASING TOURIST ATTRACTION

I very much enjoy the racing when I go on trackchasing trips.  However, I am not the type of person who would feel the trip was complete if I simply left home, went to the race and came back home.

 

 

I do a good deal of traveling.  I want to do my best to see the local area when I come for a visit.  There are usually unusual attractions that one area is noted for more than any other locale.  I want to see those places.  I want to touch them and feel them.  When I leave an area, I want to have memories of these special places that I call Trackchasing Tourist Attractions.  I will remember those experiences long after the checkered flag has fallen on whatever race I have seen that day.

 

 

Garth billboard 

Garth Brooks Concert – Wynn Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada

 

I’ve seen a lot and done a lot that had nothing to do with auto racing during my trackchasing adventures.  However, this weekend may have been the best or one of the very best “TTAs” I have ever experienced.  Read along and see how this amazing adventure came together.

 

 

From time to time I get notifications from Ticketmaster and other places telling me about upcoming concerts, sporting events, etc.  I received one of those messages alerting me to a Garth Brooks set of concert dates in Las Vegas.

 

 

Before I go much further, it might be a good idea if I told you just a little about Garth Brooks (http://www.garthbrooks.com/).  If you’re “not into country” you may not know exactly how popular Mr. Brooks is.  Garth Brooks is both a country music artist as well as a “crossover” musical act in the “pop” category.  His first album, released in 1989, reached #2 on the country charts and #13 on the pop rankings.  Through the end of 2009, Garth has sold just over 68 million albums.  This makes him the best selling albums artist in the United States since 1991.  He had sold more than 7 million albums than the second ranked musical group….the Beatles!  You are probably thinking, “I had no idea!”

 

 

Troubled by conflicts between family and career, Garth Brooks retired in 2001 until 2009.  During this time he has made a few appearances almost exclusively to support charity efforts such as raising money for California’s firefighters.  On October 15, 2009, Garth Brooks announced the end of his retirement.  In December, 2009, he began a 5-year concert deal with legendary Steve Wynn developer of the Wynn Resort on the Las Vegas Strip.  See the press conference announcing this deal at http://www.garthbrooks.com/octoberpressconference/.

 

 

To be clear Carol and I are not big music fans.  Neither of us listens too much music in our daily lives.  Carol prefers political talk shows on the radio.  I go for news, business and an occasional NPR or Oprah radio show on my satellite radio system.  When I do listen to music, I like country.  However, country music is not all that popular in Southern California.  The crowd I hang out with at home (Southern California older white country club males) is not a big demographic for country music.  Nevertheless, Carol and I have seen several country music concerts from the likes of Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Roy Clark and Merle Haggard among others.

 

 

Up until this weekend I had never been a huge fan of Garth Brooks.  However, I was looking for something in February to help celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary.  Recall we couldn’t celebrate on the exact date, February 13, because I “had” to be in Manitoba, Canada for an ice race! 

 

 

Garth Brooks is only scheduled to play 15 weekends in Las Vegas each year.  Luckily, he would be playing in Las Vegas during the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend.  Great!  Now all I needed to do was get some tickets to his show.

 

 

I learned about the ticket opportunity in October, 2009.  This was more than four months before the weekend I was shooting for.  As luck would have it the tickets would go on sale on Saturday morning at 8 a.m., October 24, 2009.  However, I was busy flying from Las Vegas (Track #1,507 had been on Friday night October 23) to Greensboro, North Carolina for the NASCAR race on Sunday, October 25 on that Saturday morning.  I would be in the air when the first opportunity to buy the tickets would begin.  I knew that with Garth’s huge popularity there would be no tickets remaining after the first hour or two of sales.

 

 

I had to solve this problem.  Son J.J. would be my answer.  Each of us has crazy and erratic schedules.  We’re both flying all the time, except he gets paid to do it.  When one of us is “out of pocket” the other will try to fill in the best way we can.  Fortunately, J.J. was off work on Saturday morning, October 24.  He would attempt to get the concert tickets by either calling the Wynn Resort and/or using the internet to get tickets.

 

 

At the precise second that the tickets became available for sale, he called and tried the internet.  His phone call went through!  He was able to purchase two tickets to the Saturday, February 27, 2009 concert.  The tickets weren’t cheap.  They were selling for $125 each ($143 with all fees and taxes). 

 

 

Once J.J. made that single purchase he attempted to call back to get some more tickets.  He also used the “refresh” button on his computer every minute for the next six hours to get tickets.  The phone number never stopped being busy and the computer never “got through”.  In a matter of a few hours, all of the Garth Brooks tickets for several months of performances were sold out.  We were lucky to get two tickets to this very special event.

 

 

On the one hand, I could not have been more pleased to get these tickets.  On the other hand, I recognized the immense popularity of Garth Brooks.  I put “two and two” together and figured there might be a profit opportunity here.  What if I “scalped” the tickets?  At this point Carol didn’t even know I had the tickets.  I checked some on-line ticket brokers and some of the very best seats to the Garth Brooks concert were going for more than $1,000 per seat.  Folks, that’s a lot of money!  I could take Carol to a lot of other concerts with $2,000.  I decided I would sell the tickets.  I figured I would give some of my profit to J.J. since he had closed the deal so successfully.

 

 

There was a minor (not really) detail that I haven’t told you yet.  Our two Garth Brooks tickets were in the FRONT ROW!!!!  I don’t know how we got so lucky, but we did.  The sky might be the limit on how much I could sell these tickets for.  To top it off, this show was on the Saturday night before the big NASCAR Sprint Cup race the next afternoon on Sunday.  NASCAR and country music go hand in hand.  This my friends, was the perfect storm!

 

 

However…..isn’t there always a “however”.  Mr. Brooks and the Wynn Resort (http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/) didn’t want me reselling the tickets they had just sold me.  No, you don’t understand.  They not only didn’t want people reselling their tickets, they were putting procedures in place that would prevent the reselling of their tickets completely.

 

 

Every ticket buyer had to tell the Wynn Resort folks well in advance who would be using these tickets BY NAME.  Tickets could only be picked up at “will call” on the day of the event.  When we went to get our tickets, we needed to show the credit card that was used back in October to buy the tickets.  Then we had to show our driver’s license to prove we were the two people that had been identified months ago, as the users of these tickets.  At that point, we were each issued a “bracelet” and given a “hand stamp”.  There was no way these tickets could be resold and used by anyone else other than us.  If you doubt the effectiveness of the Wynn Resort strategy try searching for Garth Brooks tickets at any online ticket broker you have ever used.  You won’t find any listed.  Once the scalpers learned of this policy, the offers for Garth Brooks tickets dried up.

 

 

In order to get us “in the mood” for a Garth Brooks concert I went out and bought my first ever Garth Brooks CD/DVD.  It was titled “Ultimate Hits” and included 30 of his classics as well as a DVD with videos for each of his songs.  I needed to refresh my somewhat limited knowledge of his songs.  Carol listened to the highlights of this CD and confessed that his “Friends in low places” was the only song she thought she had ever heard from Mr. Brooks. 

 

 

With that in mind we entered the Encore Theater on Saturday night for the 8 p.m. show.  This theater is small, intimate and luxurious.  It seats just 1,130 people.  The very last row of either the orchestra level or the balcony is just 71 feet from the stage. 

 

 

Here we were in the front row.  The middle seating section of the theatre had just 11 seats (seats 101-111).  I was sitting one seat from the exact center of the theatre (seat 105) in the very first row.  Wow!!!

 

 

I’ve had some very big entertainment moments in my life.  I’ve seen the Super Bowl and the Major league baseball all-star game.  I’ve seen the World Series played in three different stadiums.  I’ve seen Muhammad Ali hold court in a boxing ring with just about 100 of us listening to him for more than an hour.  I’ve been very lucky to have great seats at these special occasions and many others.

 

 

Truth be told I thought we were both unprepared and for the most part unworthy of having front row seats to a Garth Brooks concert.  Heck, we had just purchased our first Garth Brooks CD only days before.  We didn’t even know most of his hits.  Yet, we had somehow lucked into front row seats.  “Sometimes the bear gets you and sometimes you get the bear”.  Tonight…..we got the bear!

 

 

A few minutes before the show, people were taking a few pictures of themselves and finding their seats.  No photo taking would be allowed during the show.  Just at that moment, I recognized a couple who would be sharing the front row with us.  It was NASCAR’s four-times running champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra.  Wow!  We were traveling with some fast company tonight.  The Johnson’s were in seats 108-109.  There was just one couple between them and us.  I couldn’t resist saying hi to Jimmie and giving him my trackchasing card.  Maybe he’ll give my website a try and say hello.

 

 

I had read in advance that this concert would be “just” Garth Brooks and his guitar.  I was disappointed when I heard that.  His DVDs always showed him singing in packed sports stadiums that seated 40,000 people or more.  However, I am frequently disappointed when I’ve attended country concerts and the band rocks so hard that I can’t hear the song’s lyrics.  Maybe “just” Garth and his guitar wouldn’t be so bad.  When the concert was over I was convinced this format was the best ever.

 

 

Precisely as 8 p.m., the lights went down and Garth Brooks came on stage.  At first, other than the crowd’s huge reaction, we didn’t even know if this WAS Garth Brooks.  The man who had come on stage didn’t look that much like the huge billboard photos of Garth Brooks that appeared all over Las Vegas.

 

 

Garth Brooks 

He was wearing somewhat baggy blue jeans, the kind with a left leg “hammer loop”.  He had on a blue hooded sweatshirt, construction boots and a black baseball cap.  It wouldn’t have taken much of a leap for this guy to have been one of the stagehands.  This wasn’t a stagehand.  This was Garth Brooks!

 

 

For the next 100 minutes or so, he entertained and interacted with the crowd like no other entertainer I have ever seen.  Carol felt even more strongly than I did on this point.  He took the audience through his entire musical background from growing up in a rural Oklahoma household, the youngest of six children through his early performance days in Nashville.

 

 

He told us his dad’s favorite singers were Merle Haggard and George Jones.  Then he went on to sing some of their hits in voices that were probably as good as Merle or George ever sang.  He followed this up with a musical chronology based upon the performers his brothers liked.  He took the audience through Simon & Garfunkel, George Strait (who he always wanted to be), Bob Seeger and many more people that helped him develop his own unique style.

 

 

All the while he was replicating a hall of fame list of musical stars he was interacting with the audience.  He seemed to have a sense of just what the audience was thinking and his comical comments made everyone give frequent standing ovations.  He loved the attention and always responded with “take a seat!”  For most of his songs, the audience sang along.  Of course, Carol and I didn’t because we didn’t know the words!!  I noticed that Chandra Johnson and even Jimmie knew the words to many of the songs.  This made me feel really unworthy.

 

 

Much of the time Garth performed his songs at the edge of the stage.  As I relaxed with my feet stretched out, I was a mere 3-4 feet from him as he sang to us.  There were times when it looked like he might get so close to the stage that he would fall in our laps.  Having the number one solo artist dressed so casually just a few feet from us was somewhat surreal.

 

 

During the last half of the show, Garth sang many of the hits he is known for.  A special surprise was when he brought his wife on stage.  Maybe, you know her.  He’s married to Trisha Yearwood (http://www.trishayearwood.com/main/index.php).  He refers to her as “Miss Yearwood”.  We’ve seen her in concert and she’s wonderful with a boatload of hits.  Tonight she did “She’s in love with the boy” and “Walkaway Joe”.  Again, the crowd went wild.

 

 

As the show continued I looked at my watch.  The second show tonight would begin at 10:30 p.m.  That meant that we were nearing the end of our show.  I didn’t want it to end.  This may have been (probably was) the best concert that Carol and I have ever seen.  I’m going to do my best to get tickets to a future show.  We won’t be in the first row, but we’ll be in the building.

 

 

When the show was over and the final standing ovation had been completed folks started to leave the theatre.  Someone came to get Jimmie and Chandra Johnson to take them backstage to meet Garth.  Chandra’s from Oklahoma.  Maybe that “in” trumped her famous husband’s racing accomplishments.  I hoped Jimmie might invite me backstage with Chandra and him but he didn’t.  Maybe he knew that I’ve been a Jeff Gordon fan all along!

 

 

Who doesn’t deserve to be in this special group?

At that point I got to thinking.  For much of tonight, within a circle about eight feet wide, we had the world’s number one selling solo recording artist, the only four-time consecutive NASCAR champion in history and the World’s #1 Ranked Trackchaser.  “Now Randy, aren’t you exaggerating a bit here?  Of these three people aren’t the accomplishments of one of these three people a little “light in the loafers”, the supportive but quizzical reader might be prone to exclaim.  You know when I thought about that question it seemed to have some validity.  Yes, both Garth Brooks and I are world leaders in our field.  However, Jimmie Johnson is only a NATIONAL leader in what he does.  Maybe one of the three people mentioned above really DOESN’T deserve to be included in this group!

 

 

Trackchaser injured at Garth Brooks concert.

The concert was over.  It had been a wonderful evening.  Carol and I were standing in front of our seats soaking in the moment.  Just then, a young fan jumped on the stage for just a second or two to retrieve a guitar pick that Garth had tossed on the stage floor.  You would have thought this youngster was a suicide bomber.  Two sport-coated “bouncers” immediately sprang to life and “subdued” this young fan.  They ripped the guitar pick from his nearly dead lifeless hand and headed him toward the exits.

 

 

In the excitement of this “action” one of the bouncers, as he was running toward this “assailant”, ran his knee into the back of my calf.  Wow!  Did that ever hurt.  It was still hurting two days later.  I thought about suing Steve Wynn.  Maybe my damages would include a suite at the Wynn Resort and ticket to Garth Brooks’ concerts any time I wanted.  Oh well, I’ll just deal with the pain and think back on this evening as one of the most special entertainment moments that Carol and I have ever had.

 

 

THE OBJECTIVE, THE TRIP, THE PEOPLE…AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

 

 

The Objective 

 

 

So what was the REAL objective? 

The REAL objective of this trip was to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary.  Someone asked me the other day what we had done to acknowledge our 30th anniversary.  I told them, “I took Carol to Hawaii”.  Then they asked me what we had done to celebrate #35.  I told them, “I went back to get her” (Ba-da-bing!)  

 

 

In the end, Carol gets her treat. 

Recall that I had to (my words) make a trip to Manitoba, Canada on February 13 and 14 this year.  Those dates covered both our anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  I felt comfortable doing that because I knew what “special treat” I had in mind for Carol just two weeks later.  This weekend was that “special treat”.  Please don’t miss the Trackchasing Tourist Attraction section of this report (above).  This was likely our best TTA ever.

 

 

Getting a new track was far down the list of things to do this weekend. 

I made the plan to buy the Garth Brooks tickets on this weekend because the NASCAR Sprint Cup race would be the next day.  The #1 objective was to see Garth Brooks.  The #2 objective was to see the Sprint Cup race.  When I committed to the concert, I didn’t know for sure, if the small quarter-mile track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be running or not.  I thought they might be, but I didn’t know for sure.  It didn’t really matter.  Regardless of whether I could see a new track this weekend…..we were coming to Vegas!

 

 

The Trip

driving to las vegas 

I don’t drive to my trackchasing destination often. 

This is one of those rare driving trackchasing trips.  I don’t drive to my trackchasing events often because there are very few tracks within 1,000 miles of my house that I have not already seen.  That means that if I want to keep up in the competitive “dog eat dog” world of trackchasing I must fly to the tracks I see.

 

 

On this trip, Carol and I headed out on Saturday morning for “Vegas”.  It’s only a 4-5 hour drive.  We made a stop in Barstow at the outlet mall to pick up some running shoes.  Carol and I arrived into our hotel on early Friday afternoon.  Then we had a wonderful time “vacationing” in Las Vegas.  We returned to sunny SoCal on Monday morning.  It was a fine trip.  Our Trackchasing Tourist Attraction may have been our best ever. 

 

 

The People

 

People have a hard time deciding what a good value is.

The definition of “true value” is the price that a willing seller is willing to sell an item for and the price that a willing buyer is willing to buy an item for.  When those two graphical lines cross, you have a sale.  However, most people just don’t know what they have is really worth on the open market.  At the same time, buyers don’t know how much they should really be paying for something.  Truth be told, there is a lot of “bluffing” on both sides of the buyer/seller relationship.

 

 

I don’t want to buy cheap things cheap…I want to buy good things cheap.

A question I am asked, as often as anything regarding my trackchasing is “how do you afford it”.  Of course, like any magician, I can’t tell you all of my tricks.  However, I am willing to share a few strategies.

 

 

Sometimes good things cannot be bought cheaply.

That’s right!  Sometimes the very best things in life are expensive.  That’s O.K.  The expense often times guarantees exclusivity.  I guess if everybody had a sack full of diamonds at home, then diamonds wouldn’t be very expensive.

 

 

Carol’s big treat for this weekend would be a Garth Brooks concert.  I’ll tell you a great story about that in the Trackchaser Tourist Attraction segment of this report.  I will tell you about how I was injured at the concert.  I will tell you how I met NASCAR’s reigning four-time consecutive champion.  I will tell you about my “close encounter” with Garth Brooks himself.  For now, I will just tell you that at $143 per ticket the concert seemed to be expensive.

 

 

Sometimes buying cheap things cheaply makes sense.

The Garth Brooks concert was being held at the Wynn Resort.  The Wynn Resort holds more Forbes five-star awards than any gaming resort in the world.  It would have been fun to stay there for the weekend.  However, their lowest hotel rate was running $339 per night.  Those numbers didn’t work well with my “household budget” Excel spreadsheet.

 

 

A little “noodling” secured a great rate at the “Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino” in nearby Primm, Nevada.  Whiskey Pete’s is about 40 minutes from downtown Las Vegas on the way in from California.  In fact, this hotel is located right on the border of Nevada and California.

 

 

Our nightly rate would be just $34 U.S.  You can’t beat that, although it does support the theory that “you get what you pay for”.  Overall, I would classify “Whiskey Pete’s” as a 1-1.5 star hotel.  Our bathroom sink didn’t drain, the shower didn’t work well and the TV remote didn’t work at all.  While we were away during the day, we called and asked to get all of this stuff fixed.

 

 

When we returned after the races, we found a new remote affixed to the doorknob of our hotel room door.  However, the sink had not been fixed or the shower.  Actually, the room had not even been “made-up”.  They claimed we had a “do not disturb” sign on the door.  We didn’t.  I don’t even want to complain that we waited in a line for 45 minutes just to check-in.

 

 

We arrived into Nevada on Saturday afternoon.  We departed on Monday morning.  Fortunately, except for our sleep time we were not in our room at all.  We spent all of that time in Las Vegas.  Whiskey Pete’s was a dump.  That might have explained why it was so cheap.  Sometimes buying cheap things cheaply is a good idea…..but not often.

 

 

I really get a kick out of buying good stuff cheaply.

This was what I would call a “high profile” entertainment weekend.  On Saturday night, we went to a Garth Brooks concert.  On Sunday afternoon, we went to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.  These are two very high profile events.

 

 

Some people think that attending these big NASCAR races is expensive.  For some people they are…..they just aren’t for me.  You might recall that I went to two of the big NASCAR races last year (Martinsville and Homestead).  On each occasion, I spent just twenty dollars for a ticket with a face value of $80.

 

lvms danica patrick 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup boys race in Las Vegas just one time each year.  “Vegas” is a “high roller” town.  It caters to the upscale among us.  Entertainment is not cheap.  Tickets to the Sprint Cup race are not cheap.

 

 

Before we headed for Las Vegas, I tried to do my homework.  First, I printed out a seating chart for the track.  Secondly, I checked what prices were being asked by the track for each seating location.  Finally, I made sure that I had enough cash to “make a transaction”.

 

 

I had just three requirements for the tickets we would purchase.  First, they had to be near the start/finish line so we could see all the pit stop action.  Secondly, the seats had to be high enough so we could see the racing action on the backstretch.  Finally, we had to be able to buy these tickets at a significant discount to face value.

 

 

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway seats well over 100,000 people.  They had a huge crowd on hand today.  I had to be in a position to tell most of these 100,000 people that Carol and I needed tickets.  That’s where my “Need 2” sign comes in.  When you don’t advertise it’s like “winking at your girlfriend in the dark”.  You know what you’re doing but nobody else does!

 

 

rnl need 2 sign 

It is absolutely amazing how well this sign works.  We weren’t out of our car for 60 seconds when a group of four guys near our car offered to sell us two tickets.  However, their seat location “didn’t measure up” to my pre-ordained expectation.

 

 

This created a delicate situation.  Have you ever noticed a homeless person holding up a sign that says something like, “Hungry – I need food”.  Then when you offered them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they told you they were expecting a piece of filet mignon.  The homeless person might feel O.K. about this exchange but the “gift giver” wouldn’t.

 

 

This was similar to what happened to us today.  I am constantly amazed at how many people have “extra” tickets.  I guess their friends “bailed on them”.  The funny thing is that I didn’t see one other sign like mine today at all.  The people with extra tickets only came up to me with their extra tickets BECAUSE I had a sign.

 

 

Today it took us the better part of an hour for us to finalize a transaction.  I must have turned down at least twenty offers for tickets in locations where we didn’t want to sit.  It took some patience on my part.  Carol would have liked me to accept one of these offers.

 

 

Some people were willing to let their tickets go for a “song”.  Others thought they would be able to sell their tickets for face value despite this being a “buyer’s market”.  Boy, were they dreaming.

 

 

Finally, we found a fellow willing to sell two great seats near the start/finish line and in row 43 of a 50-row grandstand.  These were perfect.  However, the face value of these tickets was $161 each.  Wow!  I told you that entertainment was expensive in Las Vegas.

 

 

I don’t have the big trackchasing budgets of those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers”.  I certainly could not afford to pay more than $320 for two race tickets.  I was hoping this fellow would be willing to sell these tickets for less…..quite a bit less.

 

 

For the most part he was.  He offered to part with these tickets for just $100 for the pair.  That was a great deal especially since we hadn’t seen virtually anyone selling tickets in this section all day.  However, I am trained to NEVER accept the first offer.  Getting $320 worth of tickets for $100 was a great deal today.  Nevertheless, I made a counter-offer.  “How about $80 for the two”, I asked.  No dice, said the seller and began to walk away.  As I saw the deal evaporating before my eyes, I upped my price to ninety dollars.  The seller took his two tickets, put them in his hat, and then put his hat on his head!  As he began to walk away, I agreed to his price of $100 for the two tickets.  It was a good deal.

 

 

I whipped out the cash, but before I gave him the money, I asked, “You’re not a cop are you?”  No, he told me he was not.  We exchanged cash for tickets.  Now there was only one more minor concern.  Would the tickets “scan” are the venue entry point?

 

 

final 4 counterfeit tickets 

Recall that a recent trip to the Final Four in Atlanta, had me purchasing a very expensive ticket and then it wouldn’t scan!  However, today the tickets scanned properly and Carol and I were in.  Later in the day, I asked the women sitting next to me what they had paid for their tickets.  She told me they had purchased them from the track nearly a year ago at the full face value of $161 per ticket.  Yes, it’s fun to “buy good stuff cheaply”.

 

 

RACE REVIEW

 

lvms quarter mile oval 

LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (inner oval)

 

 

No sugar coating.

I’m not going to sugar coat it for you.  This is exactly the type of trackchasing effort that I deplore.  I’m talking about going back to a location to see a secondary track configuration.  If it hadn’t been for our concert plans (described above) and the NASCAR Sprint Cup race (described below), it is unlikely we ever would have made such a trip.

 

 

This was not my first rodeo in Las Vegas.  I’ve been here many, many times.  When I lived in Phoenix (1974), Las Vegas was part of my sales territory.  I went to Vegas for five days every month.

 

 

Here’s a list of my previous trackchasing visits to this property (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) as well as other visits to Las Vegas locations.

 

 

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

 

Asphalt oval – 1.5-mile –  1996, 2000, 2010

 

Inner asphalt oval (to 1.5-mile oval) – 2010

 

Dirt oval – ½-mile – 1996

 

Asphalt road course – permanent outside of main track – 2004

 

Dirt road course – temporary inside dirt oval – 2009

 

Asphalt oval – ½-mile (Bullring at LVMS) – 2006

 

 

I had to go to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway property six different times to get these six tracks.

 

Remaining to be seen:

Asphalt road course – permanent inside of main track at LVMS

 

Other Las Vegas tracks seen:

 

Asphalt road course – temporary, Caesars Palace parking lot – 1981

 

Asphalt oval – ¼-mile – (Craig Road Speedway) – Pre-1980

 

Asphalt road course – temporary, streets of Las Vegas – 2007

 

 

That’s it!  I’ve seen nine different tracks in Las Vegas.  I have now seen six different tracks at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway alone.  Actually, I think the second statement of this paragraph shows how ludicrous our rules are in this regard.  Nevertheless, in order to stay competitive with the world’s leading trackchasers I have to “play the game”.

 

 

Today’s racing took place on a mostly flat quarter-mile asphalt oval.  The start/finish line of both this track and the 1.5-mile superspeedway track are pretty much the same.  There were three classes racing on the small oval today.  These included  bandeleros – 5 (not countable because of drivers’ ages), legends – 7 and thunder roadsters – 4.  Each class ran a 10-lap heat race and 20-lap feature.

 

 

The highlight of the bandeleros racing was seeing young Chris Trickle winning the feature.  Chris is the grandson of Dick Trickle’s brother, Chuck, who has resided in Las Vegas for more than 40 years.  Chris’ dad also named Chris was an excellent Las Vegas late model driver.  However, he was shot in a random shooting in Las Vegas.  He remained in a coma for more than a year before passing away.  His shooter was never apprehended. 

 

 

The countable racing for the legends and thunder roadsters was for the most part unremarkable.  The track announcer did a good job describing the action over a quality P.A. system.  This track is only used twice each year.  One race date follows the Sprint Cup race in February and the other follows the NASCAR truck race in September.

 

lvms j johnson winning 

The big race.

I enjoy watching NASCAR’s Sprint Cup race each weekend on TV.  However, there are only a handful of tracks, where I enjoy seeing the racing in person.  The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is not one of those tracks.  I may be the only listed trackchaser who has seen racing at each and every venue where the Sprint Cup races.  This is the third time I have seen racing at the 1.5-mile superspeedway track.  I saw the first ever race at LVMS, an Indy Racing League effort. 

 

 

The track is too big for my tastes.  I’m not much of a 1.5-mile to 2-mile track guy.  Jeff Gordon, my favorite driver led most of the race only to be passed by Jimmie Johnson, whom I had met just 18 hours before.  Jimmie Johnson is fast becoming the “Tiger Woods of auto racing” in the best sense of the comparison.  Good for Jimmie.  He’s competing in a sport that offers pretty much the same equipment to the top twenty drivers and consistently beating their butts.  It’s kind of like what’s happening in trackchasing!

 

 

Following the completion of the “big race” we waited about an hour until they were ready to race on the “inner oval” flat quarter-mile track.  The best thing about this delay was that the traffic leaving the track was getting more manageable by the minute.

 

STATE COMPARISONS

 

Nevada

This afternoon I saw racing at my 25th lifetime Nevada racetrack.  This lengthens my first place lead over deceased trackchaser Gary Jacob who has 20 tracks in the Silver state.  Youngster Carol Lewis added her 14th Nevada track to hold onto to third place in the state rankings.  No other trackchaser has seen more than eight tracks here.

 

 

I have only two tracks remaining to be seen in the Silver state.  They are both road courses and rarely hold events.  However, I’ll be on the lookout for when they are racing.  Maybe I’ll be able to tie one of them into another Garth Brooks concert.

 

 

Coming Soon – RANLAY Racing Exclusive Features!

 

Trackchasing politics revealed….they’re about ready to kill each other.

 

Has a conspiracy been committed in the international tracks “counting world”?

 

National Geographic Diversity results are being computed as we speak.

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

Alberta’s #1 Trackchaser

Never lick a steak knife.

 

 

TRAVEL DETAILS

 

AIRPLANE

No airplanes!

 

RENTAL CAR #1

No rental car!

 

PERSONAL CAR

San Clemente, CA – trip begins

Las Vegas, Nevada – 301 miles

San Clemente, CA – 639 miles – trip ends

 

Total Air miles – 0 (0 flights)

 

Total Rental Car miles – 0 (0 cars)

 

Total Personal Car miles – 639

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 639 miles

 

TRACK ADMSSION PRICES:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway – $50

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $50

 

 

COMPARISONS

 

LIFETIME NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DIVERSITY UPDATE

 

Lifetime NGD results for the year ending 2009 will be posted very soon.

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

 

There are no trackchasers currently within 200 tracks of my lifetime total.    

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,525 

2.  Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin – 1,258 

3.  Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 1,255

 

 

Official end of RANLAY Racing Trackchaser Report

 


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