GEARS AND ROAMING IN LAS VEGAS: NASCAR HITS THE STRIP
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).