Champions Week a boon for charities


Last week's racing schedule was as stuffed as you probably are today.

The weekend was filled with dirt late models and 240 mph full-bodied dragsters at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Endurocross at The Orleans and international go-karts with Michael Schumacher.

And the local season isn't over.

There's a big-money drag race at the speedway this weekend -- the Las Vegas Bracket Nationals -- and the Best in the Desert series races in Primm on Dec. 5.

We tend to take for granted how many racing options we have throughout the year.

And there's a little banquet coming to town next week just when I should be dusting off my boots for Thursday's opening of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Strip will have to find room for race cars, cowboys, cowgirls and large farm animals.

Having NASCAR Champions Week in town along with the NFR makes perfect sense. There will be as much B.S. spread at the banquet next Friday night at Wynn Las Vegas as there will be in the makeshift corrals around the Thomas & Mack.

I never attended the "black tie" Sprint Cup banquet in New York City but will be at this year's inaugural event in Las Vegas. I'll be in a back room waiting to interview drivers in my jeans and boots. I don't own a suit or tux and have no plans of buying/renting one to sit in a ballroom for the drawn-out affair with drivers reading sanitized acceptance speeches from teleprompters.

"I want to thank my team, my car owner Mr. Moneybags and all the great sponsors, including blah, blah, blah."

The Speed Channel is scheduled to televise the nearly four-hour infomercial. And you thought many Cup races were too long and boring.

Although 300 "common folk" will attend the banquet, thanks to various promotions and charity fundraisers by tracks, teams and sponsors, the reason the three-day event is being held here is because of what will happen Wednesday at LVMS and Thursday on the Strip, courtesy of Las Vegas Events.

The inaugural Chasers for Charity Fanfest, at 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, gives fans a free opportunity to participate, or they can donate $250 to Speedway Children's Charities to attend a roast of series champ Jimmie Johnson by 11 other drivers, with Carrot Top serving as emcee.

If you can't pay to attend, you can watch it on closed-circuit TV in the speedway's Neon Garage infield area.

This could be the highlight of the season. C'mon, Carrot Top trading barbs with Tony Stewart? Could be classic.

Thursday's special moment -- and a free one to boot -- is the Victory Lap on the Strip at 3:30 p.m.

A member of my Big Ear posse says Johnson will do some smoky donuts in the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain, and each of the 12 cars will make a "pit stop" in front of Bally's or Bellagio.

(Go to lvrj.com/motorsports for more details on Champions Week.)

It's an impressive blend of fan and charity events.

The week kicks off Tuesday with Kurt Busch hosting a charity golf tournament at DragonRidge Country Club.

The speedway's Fanfest on Wednesday will raise money for the Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.

Champions Week is icing on our motor sports cake, and the thousands of dollars the event will generate for charities is a big ol' scoop of pumpkin ice cream on top.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit Wolf's motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal/ throughout the week.

 

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