Autumn plenty awaits local race fans

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Foliage turns to red and gold. A pleasant nip chills the night air.

Sorry, but I was harking to fall delights of years living in the central part of the country where there are four distinct seasons.

In these parts, fall means foliage colors don’t change or only fade to boring browns, and it cools to 80 at night.

Fall in Southern Nevada does, however, offer an abundance of racing’s wondrous colors of red, yellow and checkered.

The next three months mean more than football to racing fans. Local motorheads are bestowed a horsepower horn-of-plenty that overflows with a great bounty of major league racing.

It ranges from the NASCAR truck race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 26 to a visit from the NHRA pro tour at the end of October. In between, there are three major desert races and Supercross.

(Go to lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal for a preview of what’s coming.)

This year is even bigger; for the first time Las Vegas will host NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions Week (really three days) in December. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is paying up to $1 million to have the Cup postseason parties here.

Though many plans still are being finalized, some nitwits on the Internet have implied that it’s going to be a blah event. Not true.

The big Dec. 4 banquet at Wynn Las Vegas won’t be open to the public, but NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said this week that plans are pretty conservative because this is the first year the shebang is in Las Vegas, and that decision was finalized only five months ago.

Cup drivers, sponsors and dignitaries will begin arriving in Las Vegas on Nov. 30 to play the following day in a golf tournament to benefit the Kurt Busch Foundation. Not sure if the tournament will be open to spectators or if anyone can pay to play, but we’re checking on that.

On that Wednesday, there will be some type of event in which fans can meet drivers. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which played a pivotal role in luring the banquet after it spent 27 years in New York City, would be the perfect venue to host some of the top drivers and give fans a chance to be involved.

Big events on Thursday will be the closed-to-public NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon when numerous special awards are presented, including one for Most Popular Driver. That’s the only chance Dale Earnhardt Jr. has of being part of the celebration.

After the luncheon, a traditional “victory lap” will happen on the Strip when the top 10 drivers parade in their racecars down the world-famous boulevard. It was canceled last year in Manhattan because too many complained it caused traffic congestion. But this isn’t the Rotten Apple, and don’t be surprised to see the champion smoking his tires in one of the corridor’s famous intersections.

There will be many driver appearances and interactive displays along the Strip.

It will be an entertaining week, especially if NASCAR is smart enough to coordinate a free event at the speedway.

• MUST-WATCH TV — Two Cup races remain before the 12-driver Chase for the Cup field is settled. The series races Sunday night this weekend because of the Labor Day holiday. The Atlanta Motor Speedway race is at 4:30 p.m. PDT on ESPN.

The most drama, however, will be on ESPN2 on Monday with the championship eliminations of the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. It’s the last event before championship fields of 10 are set in NHRA’s four pro categories.

Visit lvrj.com/motorsports for U.S. Nationals stories provided by a new NHRA Newswire.

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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