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Former Review-Journal editor, sports reporter Mike Henle dies at 73

Updated June 13, 2024 - 8:18 pm

Mike Henle, a former Review-Journal sports writer who reported on UNLV basketball, the Caesars Palace Grand Prix and Mint 400 races while suffering a decades-long bout with epilepsy, died Wednesday. He was 73.

Henle’s wife Carmen, 70, announced his death Thursday in a post on Facebook, three days after they celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.

“He always liked helping other people,” Carmen Henle said Thursday. “He really liked motor sports and covering the (UNLV) Rebels in 1977, the first time they went to the Final Four. Even when he was 7, 8 years old he was writing about sports.”

One of Mike Henle’s longtime friends, former Review-Journal writer A.D. Hopkins, recalled when Henle organized a race for young kids driving “Big Wheel” tricycles on the newspaper’s parking lot with professional motor race pit crews interacting with the racers, which “created a lot of good will for the community.”

“The thing I remember about him was his imaginative streak,” Hopkins said. “He was kind of intense. I liked him a lot. I thought he was a great guy, a take charge guy.”

An interest in auto racing

Michael Anton Henle was born in Woodland, California, in 1950. His parents moved to Las Vegas during his sophomore year in high school, when he enrolled at Rancho High School and wrote about sports for the school newspaper before graduating in 1969, Carmen Henle said.

By then Mike and Carmen were already a couple, having had their first date in 1968 at the former Craig Road Speedway at Craig and Losee roads. During that race, two cars came off the track and almost hit them, said Carmen Henle, who grew up in Las Vegas and attended Western High School.

Mike Henle developed his interest in motor racing by taking Carmen and their three sons to the speedway on Friday and Saturday nights for years. Their sons are John Henle, 49, Joseph Henle, 46 and Jeffrey Henle, 39, all born in Las Vegas, she said.

While still in high school, Henle worked as a stringer, reporting on boxing and prep sports for the Las Vegas Sun in 1967. He then freelanced for the Review-Journal until the newspaper hired him full-time in 1975 to handle the high school sports beat, according to Carmen Henle.

From 1970 to 1974, Mike Henle also worked at the Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip in several positions including bellhop, according to his resume.

‘Mad Dog’

He reported on UNLV basketball for the Review-Journal from 1977 to 1979 and then started covering all kinds of local motor sports, such as the Mint 400 off-road races and the 1981 to 1984 Caesars Palace Grand Prix Formula 1 races on the Strip.

He also served as co-master of ceremonies for the Nevada Motor Sports Awards banquets at the Frontier Hotel in 1982 and 1983, Carmen Henle said.

Mike Henle also drove, as his personal vehicle, a then-popular Baja Bug, a Volkswagen beetle car modified to drive off road, Hopkins said.

“He was certainly an off-road guy,” said Hopkins, who added that Mike Henle’s extensive reporting in the Review-Journal on Las Vegas-area motor sports “helped popularize racing.”

People he knew referred to him as “Mad Dog” because of his habit of going after news stories “and getting it done right,” Carmen Henle said.

At the Craig Road Speedway, a track for amateur stock car drivers, Mike Henle not only covered the races there, but served as track announcer, she said.

In 1985, he was promoted to real estate editor at the Review-Journal and also edited the Drive automotive section until he left the paper in 1989 to start a second career as owner of his own marketing and public relations firm, The Idea Company.

His marketing and public relations clients over the next more than 20 years were some of the largest home developers in Las Vegas, including Lennar Homes, BR Homes and Watt Homes, and automobile industry firms Findlay Automotive Group and Gaudin Automotive Group.

Health struggles

In the 1990s, he wrote freelance articles on Las Vegas for the New York Times and from 1996 to 1999, was director of public relations for then-new Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After 2000, he worked as publicity director for the Mint 400 off-road race, the Death Valley Raceway and for Mesquite Gaming in Mesquite.

A lifelong sufferer of epileptic seizures, Henle underwent brain surgery in 1992 at the Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego. Part of his temporal lobe was removed, which successfully relieved him of symptoms without affecting his ability to write, Carmen Henle said.

His condition was traced to a bite he received from a mosquito, which had been infected with encephalitis from biting a horse, when he was only 9 months old, Carmen Henle said.

Henle chronicled his more than 30 years of painful seizures, misdiagnoses and destructive prescription drugs in his 2005 book, “Through the Darkness: One Man’s Fight to Overcome Epilepsy.”

He retired in 2019 and in 2020 was at first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and later more specifically with Lewy body dementia, two years after he started showing symptoms of the disease that had affected his thinking, Carmen Henle said.

“I tried everything, arts and crafts, anything to help,” Carmen Henle said. “It did help up to the last six months.”

“She’s quite an angel,” Hopkins said of her.

Services are pending while members of Mike Henle’s extended family, including his sons who live out of state, and six grandchildren, can make plans to attend his memorial service, likely to take place in July, Carmen Henle said.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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