News & Multimedia

Viva Las Vegas!

Note: Wayne Anthony, from Martinsville, Ind., won the Super Weekend Race to Vegas Sweepstakes and was rewarded with an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Las Vegas on Dec. 1-2 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas. Anthony, 50, was entered into the annual contest when he renewed his tickets for the 2012 Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard at Anthony shares his memories and impressions of the trip in this column.

At first, I couldn’t believe what I heard. The company that handled the sweepstakes for the Speedway called and left a message on my answering machine indicating I had won the Race to Vegas Sweepstakes.

I remembered checking the box to enter the sweepstakes when I renewed my tickets for the race. But winning it? Come on.

So I called the Speedway, and sure enough, it was true. My son, Justin, and I were heading to Vegas. What a trip of a lifetime. What a chance of a lifetime!

My son and I started following Tony Stewart his last full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series, in 1998, with Team Menard. We stayed with Smoke when he jumped to Cup full time in 1999 and never have stopped supporting him, even when he wasn’t the most popular guy in the series, proudly wearing the orange colors of his sponsor Home Depot during those years, even if it meant we were booed at the track!

So it was even more special to take this trip knowing that our favorite driver was going to be the main man at the head table, the champion.

I’ve been around racing and have been a fan of the sport for a long time. I worked for an AMA Superbike team in Colorado for quite a few years. The owner of the team, Judy Dominick, also was Tony’s PR person early in his career. Talk about a small world! My uncle also owned an open-wheeled NASCAR Modified team in Connecticut throughout the 1970s, and I’ve always enjoyed attending oval races at IMS and other tracks around the country.

But none of that prepared Justin and me for the thrill and spectacle of NASCAR in Vegas.

Justin and I arrived in Vegas Thursday, Dec. 1 and hopped a cab to the Venetian. We didn’t waste any time, finding a schedule of events and diving in.

We decided to head to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where we had access to the After The Lap party for drivers after they completed their lap of honor on Las Vegas Boulevard. We grabbed a table on the balcony and checked out the scene. Jeff Gordon stunned everyone – including me – when he started break-dancing on the floor at that party! That was something.

Friday was the big day, packed with activity. Justin and I started the day by meeting and having lunch with IMS Vice President of Marketing Mark Dill, who gave us our tickets for the Awards Ceremony. Mark also kindly took pictures of Justin and me with the Sprint Cup, which was very gracious.

Then it was time to go back to the room and scrub up for the Awards Ceremony. Justin and I were among about 200 contest winners like us lucky enough to have access to the special Fan Reception, where we got a chance to see the drivers and their guests up close and ask questions of the drivers. Each driver came out to talk with fans for about five minutes, and they were so relaxed and personable. You could see how they enjoyed being away from the stress and pressure of a race weekend.

We were able to follow the drivers toward the Red Carpet. All of the top NASCAR drivers and owners were there, and we were able to get some very cool pictures adjacent to the Red Carpet, including Justin with team owner Joe Gibbs.

The entire scene was very well organized. We never felt rushed. And the credentials we received granted us total access, which was so cool.

The Awards Ceremony was so nice. After the Ceremony, Justin and I just sat back and performed one of the best parts of any Vegas trip – people-watching. But these weren’t ordinary people; they were NASCAR superstars.

Still, I was struck at how normal and down-to-earth the star drivers, crew chiefs and owners seemed. There also were a few other surprises. I’ve been a NASCAR fan for a long time, but I had no idea Jack Roush was so short! It was very neat to be so close to so many legends.

There was one other very impressive thread of the Ceremony that’s worth a mention. I don’t want this to sound wrong, especially in these tough economic times, but I was so impressed at the money that NASCAR spent to make everything so classy at the ceremony. There was such attention to detail, so many nice touches. Everything was perfect, right down to the carpet that was embossed with the Awards Ceremony logo. Total professionalism. It was really something to see.

Racing and I have been friends for a long time. I’ve been in many pits, including NHRA, AMA and NASCAR. But seeing these drivers up close – and out of their focused, work environment at the track – helped me realize even more that they’re real people, with unique, fun personalities.

Kyle Busch probably was the biggest revelation. He was a really good talker, really engaging and funny, during the After The Lap party on Thursday. Justin and I definitely had a different, better impression of Kyle after this trip.

I also hope Jeff Gordon break-dances on stage at the Awards Ceremony if he wins the championship next season!

Bottom line: I’m already a fan, but this experience was so cool. To get this kind of access would make anyone a NASCAR fan. This Ceremony is not for us; it’s for the drivers, teams and their families. So it was such a privilege to be allowed into their world for one night.

Justin and I want to thank IMS for an experience we’ll never forget. The contest was very gracious of the Speedway – a great package.

This trip has hyped up Justin and me even more for the NASCAR race weekend next July at IMS. The Brickyard is a phenomenal place. Anyone who’s never been to a NASCAR race at the Speedway needs to go and see it. It’s that simple!

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Viva Las Vegas!
Viva Las Vegas!
Wayne Anthony, from Martinsville, Ind., won the Super Weekend Race to Vegas Sweepstakes and was rewarded with an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Las Vegas on Dec. 1-2 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas. Anthony shares his memories and impressions of the trip in this column.
Read More
Related Media
Kevin Harvick
Monday Racing Roundup: Harvick Advances With Clutch Win at Dover
Forced to win at Dover International Speedway to keep his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship hopes alive Sunday, Kevin Harvick did just that, dominating Sunday’s AAA 400 to stave off elimination from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Read More
Tony Stewart
Stewart Officially Announces Retirement from Sprint Cup
Tony Stewart officially announced his retirement from NASCAR Sprint Cup racing after the 2016 season on Wednesday, saying the choice was “100 percent mine” and that he’s not done racing in other series.
Read More
Matt Kenseth
Monday Racing Roundup: Kenseth Wins as Harvick Runs Dry at N.H.
Kenseth, who came to pit road for fuel and tires on Lap 239, triumphed for the fifth time this season (tops in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), for the second time at the Magic Mile and for the 36th time in his career. He finished 8.941 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who nursed his car to a runner-up finish despite a late-race issue with the right front wheel.
Read More
Denny Hamlin
Monday Racing Roundup: Hamlin Wins Chase Opener at Chicagoland
Hamlin’s first victory at Chicagoland, his second of the season and the 16th of his career ensured the driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota will advance from the Challenger Round to the Contender Round of the Chase, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire and the second race of the postseason.
Read More
NASCAR Green Award
IMS Wins Award for Solar Farm at NASCAR Green Summit
For more than 100 years, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has stood for moving forward and breaking records. The IMS Solar Farm continues this tradition, and was recently recognized with an award at the NASCAR Green Summit.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 654
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at
Latest Tweets
Thank you, @IndyChamber!
about 2 hours ago