Visitors to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend are likely to see a few more pompadours, leather jackets and Bettie Page hairdos than they're used to when the speedway hosts the Rockabilly Rod Reunion & NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series.
The event features vendors, a car show, races and according to Whitney-area rockabilly music producer and enthusiast Rockin' Ronny Weiser, some impressive rockabilly music.
"The bands are pretty good at the Rockabilly Rod Reunion," Weiser said. "Brian Lee Dunning is a great and exciting performer, very crazy, very wild. The Hot Rod Trio is a solid bunch of guys, too."
Chris Blair, vice president of Racing Operations for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said five bands are booked and more were being sought. One of the more eclectic groups is Mad Max & the Wild Ones, a family band from Springville, Utah, made up of father Max Maxwell and sons Wyatt, Cole and Duke, ranging in age from 9 to 18. The family has been performing as a band for five years.
"Mad Max (& the Wild Ones) is amazing," Weiser said.
"It's great to see young kids like that really rocking and rolling and really putting on some intensity with their hot, popping crazy music."
Additional music will be provided by DJ Maybelline.
"She's a local DJ and she plays all vinyl 45s, no laptop, no Serato (digital) program," said John Bisci, public relations manager for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "We've got to keep her in the shade so the sunlight doesn't turn her 45s into potato chips."
The event was founded in 2004 after Bisci chanced on the car show at the annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender event.
"I saw a blurb in the paper saying that George Barris' Batmobile was going to be there," Bisci said, referring to the renowned custom car fabricator who created the vehicle for the 1966-68 "Batman" television series. "I saw it when it was new, but that was 1966 and thought I'd like to see it again, and I'd like to meet George Barris again."
When he got there, Bisci saw not just a fantastic collection of cars but also an entire culture of rockabilly fans with a strong connection to car culture. Work began almost immediately on the speedway event.
"We did the first one with a budget of $12,000 with one DJ and one band," Bisci said. "There was so much interest in if we were going to do another that it became a regular event."
It has returned most years, with a couple off when it looked as if the economy couldn't support it. The event has been back and going strong for several years and continues to expand.
"A few years ago we combined what had been primarily a car show and music event with the NHRA hot rod series," Blair said. "Racing has taken on a bigger presence at this show. It's the second biggest gathering of nostalgia nitro funny cars, which is the only opportunity fans have to see funny cars go the quarter mile anymore."
Blair said the technology has advanced so greatly in modern funny cars that they go too fast. Races are limited to 1,000 feet so they don't have time to pick up as much speed.
Twenty cars are scheduled to compete for eight slots in the races, so the competition should be fierce even during the qualifying races Saturday.
For spectators, Rockabilly Rod Reunion & NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series begins Friday at 4 p.m. with the test 'n' tune. Pricing runs from $5 for one-day kids tickets to three-day adult passes for $40 in advance and $50 at the gate. Other events scheduled for the weekend include a burnout contest and pinup girl contests in both formal gowns and swimsuits. A full list of the events and pricing is available at lvms.com or by calling 632-8213.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 380-4532.