NASCAR 2019 Pennzoil 400 series: Speed thrills

Racing on the cutting edge of life or death.

By Claude Puggioni

While approaching the Las Vegas Speedway by car along Las Vegas Boulevard, my heart was racing as I could hear the roar of the racecar engines from a mile or more away. This reminded me of lions roaring in the jungle to protect their territory. I felt the similarity between competing NASCAR teams as their cars roar as if to warn competitors that this was their turf and their race and competitors should get ready for a fight.

As I got to the parking lot, the sights, sounds, and smells synonymous with NASCAR racing hit me in an extraordinary way and without words, they attacked all my senses, which told me that I had arrived. As I approached the track, the roar of the engines got closer and louder. The combined scents of racing fuel, burnt rubber from the tires, food being prepared, the unmistakable smell of newly painted race cars, beer and many more that make up NASCAR at the Las Vegas Speedway.

I entered from the Neon Garage where the band was playing on stage while the showgirls and men on stilts posed for pictures with race fans; there was an instant air of excitement. In the Neon Garage complex, there are many areas to sit down and enjoy a meal and drink or just take in the ambiance before taking your seat in the stands to watch the race; the Las Vegas Speedway and NASCAR offer fun for all ages.

The Las Vegas Speedway is world class, and the perfect venue to host NASCAR Racing. Not only does this Speedway have the world-renowned circular race track which is 1.5 miles long but also, slightly to the north of this 1,200-acre property, it has an international standard drag strip for quarter mile racing as well as lesser-known dirt and mud racing track. It indeed is a one-stop shop for all motor racing enthusiasts and drivers alike. For those brave souls who want to try the motor racing experience for themselves, there is an exotic car company at the Las Vegas Speedway that can help you achieve this.

Once I arrived trackside for Thursday practice, the first things I noticed was the extreme speed which the NASCAR’s traveled at compared to seeing NASCAR racing on TV, in real life the speed is heart stopping. As the race cars were coming down the straight at top speed, the race cars remind me of a lightning bolt as they almost fly at speeds close to 200 miles per hour. The highly skilled drivers have to endure massive G forces produced rounding bends at high speeds and still manage to keep control of the vehicles. One small error, as small as moving the steering wheel half an inch in the wrong direction and the car, can spin out of control often resulting in life-threatening injuries or even death. To the fans, NASCAR drivers are like superheroes with superhuman abilities to be able to drive at these speeds, and in these conditions, I take my hat off to each and every one of them.

The pits and garages at the Speedway were a big surprise to me compared to a local mechanical workshop. To avoid any sort of contamination getting into the engine or fuel, the painted, concrete floors of the workshops are so clean and shiny, you could eat off them. There was not a single drop of oil or dirt at all. The tools and toolboxes look like they are brand new without a scratch or chip, and the overalls of the drivers and mechanics look like they have never been worn. It is a truly spotless environment they work in.

In the inner area approaching the track surrounding the pits, there were many 18 wheelers semi trucks used to transport the race cars and equipment. They were perfectly parked all in a row standing at attention like soldiers. They too were spotlessly clean and polished as if they were new. This is definitely a money sport, and if you have a spare million or two, it would be fun and satisfying I am sure, especially if your team won.

Just before the racing four day weekend, the parking lots become makeshift RV campgrounds with literally hundreds of RVs parked side by side for the full four days accommodating both enthusiasts and race car teams making merry and enjoy the weekend with block parties popping up without notice, quite an experience.

The weather was perfect on Thursday and Friday but on Saturday it rained until noon and practice was called off. Racing resumed later that day. Sunday was sunny and ideal racing weather for the big race, the Pennzoil 400. The stands were full of fans from trackside all the way up to the bleachers and standing room only right on the top with an electric atmosphere. As the racecars took up their allocated positions on the track and the pace car was leading them slowly around the track to warm their tires, the anticipation mounted, and then, without warning, the pace car left the track, and the race was on.

Once the racecars reached full speed, I timed some of the laps on my phone, and they made it round in under 20 seconds, which equates to around 185 miles per hour average speed! NASCAR’s seem to defy the laws of gravity, momentum, and inertia as it seems logically impossible to reach such high speeds, go round bends and not fly off the track, it is an unforgettable experience.

NASCAR Leader Board results

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Information

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