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GEARS AND ROAMING IN LAS VEGAS: NASCAR HITS THE STRIP
Published February 27, 1998
NASCAR's Las Vegas debut for the Las Vegas 400 on Sunday is the subject of USA TODAY's sports cover story by Steve Ballard. The Winston Cup race, held Sunday and televised by ABC, will run at the $200M Las Vegas Motorspeedway, which has a 2.5-mile road course, drag strip, dirt oval, research and development facilities and racing schools. The facility has 107,000 seats, which sold out in one day for the event at prices of $50 to $110. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Auth. also paid over $1M for title sponsorship of this weekend's race. NASCAR Dir of Communications John Griffin: "We're in the entertainment capital of the world and being embraced with arms wide open" (USA TODAY, 2/27). The Speedway has 102 suites that lease for $60,000 annually (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/27). SPLIT LEAGUES? In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski wrote on the state of NASCAR and added that the "best way" to grow the sport "is to split into east and west divisions with separate drivers, teams, speedways and schedules." By forming two leagues, NASCAR "could move into new markets and provide their new tracks with the races they covet. At the same time, it would enable the smaller tracks in the Southeast to keep their dates and preclude them from turning into flea markets" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/26). RAW NUMBERS: AUTOWEEK notes that attendance at NASCAR Winston Cup races has "nearly tripled" since '87. In '87, the series drew 2,213,000 fans; in '97 it drew 6,091,356, an increase of 175.2% (AUTOWEEK, 3/2 issue).