NASCAR weekend makes tracks to Motor Speedway

 
LA Times | Travel
 

Elvis Presley and Dale Earnhardt Sr. are getting hitched. The King and the Intimidator are being paired on a race car that will be unveiled this week at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Viva Las Vegas and start your engines. The car, bearing Elvis' image on the hood and Earnhardt's legendary N...

By Jay Jones // 02.18.09
 

Elvis Presley and Dale Earnhardt Sr. are getting hitched.

The King and the Intimidator are being paired on a race car that will be unveiled this week at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Viva Las Vegas and start your engines.

The car, bearing Elvis' image on the hood and Earnhardt's legendary No. 3 on the sides, will be on display at the track throughout NASCAR weekend, one of the biggest annual events in Vegas. Earnhardt, who died during a race in 2001, was instrumental in adding Sin City to the circuit in 1996.

The preliminaries begin on Wednesday and climax with Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race. It's not necessary, however, to venture anywhere near the track to get a taste of the action.

On Wednesday evening, driver Jamie McMurray will be pumping up the volume at the LAX nightclub at Luxor, where he'll be the guest host.

On Thursday, all of the NASCAR team haulers will parade down the Strip starting at 10 a.m. Many of the drivers will be making appearances all over town.

Also Thursday, driver Kasey Kahne will be signing autographs at the Stratosphere from 4 to 6 p.m. The event is limited to 500 people, so wristbands will be handed out starting at noon on Wednesday and Thursday.

Kurt Busch will be among five drivers appearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Pole Position Raceway, an indoor karting track, 4175 S. Arville St.; (702) 227-7223.

Some lucky amateurs will get an idea of what it feels like behind the wheel when they try their skills in a race car simulator Friday evening. The time trials start at 6:30 p.m. at the Sierra Gold Tavern, 6515 S. Jones Blvd.; (702) 221-4120.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway ( www.lvms.com) is more than 15 miles from the Strip and on race days the interstate inevitably turns into a parking lot. Fans are encouraged to leave their cars at their hotels and take public transportation. The local transit company is no longer running shuttle buses. Instead, they're being operated by https://nascar.coachamerica.com; (702) 739-5700, nascar.coachamerica.com.

For those wanting to arrive in style, several local helicopter companies are offering round-trip transportation starting at $399 per person.

The race is sponsored by one of the track's neighbors, Shelby Automobiles. A team managed by fabled racer Carroll Shelby builds sports cars just a few seconds down Speedway Boulevard -- even without the pedal to the metal. Factory tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday; (702) 942-7325, www.shelbyautos.com.

Although NASCAR enthusiasts probably will choose Strip hotels, there's a new -- and nearer -- alternative this year. The Aliante Station Casino and Hotel -- which opened about three months ago in North Las Vegas -- has rooms available from $229 on Friday and Saturday nights; (877) 477-7627, www.aliantecasinohotel.com.

By the way, no one will be doing laps this weekend in the "Earnhardt & Elvis" car. It's for show only. After its debut in Vegas, it will go on permanent display at Graceland, Presley's mansion in Memphis, Tenn.