Las Vegas Motor Speedway History

Las Vegas Pit Road
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, located in Clark County, Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada about 15 miles northeast of the Las Vegas Strip, is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) complex of multiple tracks for motorsports racing. The complex is owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., (Bruton Smith) which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Following the closure of Stardust International Raceway in 1970, plans were developed for a new racing facility in Las Vegas: the Las Vegas Speedrome. It consisted of a road course and drag strip, opening in 1972. Alex Rodriquez leased the facility from the City of Las Vegas, and added the 3/8-mile short track in 1985. Ralph Engelstad of Imperial Palace purchased the track in 1989, renaming the facility Las Vegas Speedway Park. Engelstad partnered with William Benette of the Sahara Hotel and opened a new $72 million superspeedway on the site in September 1996. The first race at the speedway was on September 15 with an INDYCAR event which was won by Richie Hearn. A NASCAR Truck Series race followed in November. In December 1998, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. purchased Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Veteran motorsports publicist Chris Powell was named the speedway’s president and general manager and still holds that position today.

The Winston No Bull 5 Million Dollar Bonus was held at the track from 1999 to 2002. Jeff Burton won a million dollars in 2000 and Jeff Gordon won the bonus in 2001. Burton and Sterling Marlin were not eligible in 1999 or 2002. The drag strip was relocated into the current The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, while the old drag strip and road course was rebuilt to the current outer 2.4 mile road course in use today. The 3/8-mile oval was rebuilt with a new pit lane and start-finish changed to the opposite side. In 1998, Las Vegas Motor Speedway was sold by Englestad and Benette to Speedway Motorsports, Inc., owned by Bruton Smith, for $215 million in December. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, Champ Car also held races at the speedway, which were both won by Sébastien Bourdais.

In 2006, plans were announced to reconfigure the track after the Nextel Cup Series race held in March, increasing the banking from the original 12 degrees to 20 degrees. This reconfiguration entailed “progressive banking” which increases the degree of banking on a gradient towards the outside of the track. This increased side-by-side racing. The speedway also constructed a fan zone called the Neon Garage. This area has live entertainment, unprecedented access to the drivers and teams, such as viewing areas for fans to watch their favorite driver’s car get worked on and talk to the drivers, and is home to the Winner’s Circle. The speedway moved pit road 275 feet (84 m) closer to the grandstands, built a new media center and added a quarter-mile oval for Legends Cars, Bandoleros, and Thunder Roadsters, in the tri-oval area.

On August 8, 2006, the newly reconfigured track reopened to stock cars. Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and Las Vegas native, became the first NASCAR Cup Series driver to test a stock car on the newly reconfigured track in his No. 2 Penske Dodge. Burton won the first Nationwide Series race on the new surface, taking a Monte Carlo SS to Victory Lane. The following day, Jimmie Johnson drove a Chevrolet to Victory Lane, capturing the first NASCAR Cup Series win on the new pavement.

A third road course designed by Romain Thievin was added in 2012. The course is 1.4 miles (2.3 km) long with 11 turns and an 1,800-foot (550 m) straight.

Starting in 2018, A second race weekend will take place at the track, taking the New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s Cup Series and Truck Series fall weekend races. Also, both weekends will now be triple headers (Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series), moving the October stand alone race for the Truck Series at LVMS to the spring weekend, and moving the stand-alone Xfinity race from the Kentucky Speedway to the fall weekend. The Cup race would be the first race for the playoffs (replacing Chicagoland Speedway), The regular season finale for Xfinity Series, and the second playoff race for the Truck Series.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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