Are you ready for some NASCAR?
With the huge Kobalt Tools 400 event just around the corner, Vegas offers a handful of events for hardcore fans off and on the track from Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11.
“There is such a great energy in the city because everyone is here to celebrate the same thing,” said Lauren Rogat, marketing manager for PBR Rock Bar & Grill, located inside Planet Hollywood. “Fans come from all over just to watch the exhilarating races so the city is always jam-packed, as well as parties everywhere commemorating the sport.”
While I’ve never been to a NASCAR event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I’ve been there for a handful of drift-racing events, as well as drag car racing. So I can’t even begin to imagine how crazy it gets during NASCAR weekend when the events I attended were already crowded!
From helicopter transportation tours to parties on the Strip, we’ve got you covered. You might even get a chance to have a race of your own, have a meet-and-greet with your favorite driver and even play slots with a NASCAR celebrity. So get ready and fasten your seat belts: Vegas is about to show you a good time.
Race your friends to the track by flying in style
To beat the traffic going to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a lot of fans opt for a helicopter ride. Not only will get you get there in lighting speed time, but you’ll also catch views of the city.
“They are popular both between the fans and the drivers themselves,” said Bryan Kroten, vice president of marketing for Maverick Aviation Group. “We transport the majority of the drivers as well as individual people wanting to fly to the track.”
As for the fans, they love it.
“Flight out and flight back, you’re flying over the Strip,” said Kroten. “There’s [nothing] more picturesque. The most popular feedback we get is once they’ve flow out, they’ll never drive again. It’s literally a 15-minute ride to the track.”
With approximately 200,000 fans trying to make their way to the Speedway, who wants to experience all that traffic?
“There are plenty of times where it takes two-plus hours to get out of the parking lot when the race is over,” he said. “The [helicopter] is a substantial time-saver.”
Maverick Tours offers complimentary transportation from your hotel to the air terminal, located at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. Once you’re done at the races, you’ll meet at the same landing pad to fly back. Hotel packages are also available.
With less time worrying about driving, you’ll also have more time to do things like visit the pits, get autographs, shop for souvenirs of your favorite drivers at the midway and enjoy live entertainment at the Neon Garage. At the Neon Garage, you’ll get to check out automobiles up-close as they’re getting prepped for the race.
Food options at the Speedway include all-American fare like funnel cake, corn on the cob, turkey legs and more.
“It truly is entertainment for all ages,” Kroten said. “There really is something for everyone.”
One helpful tip? Kroten said not to forget the sunscreen.
“Especially in Vegas the past couple of years, sunscreen is the most popular thing forgotten,” he said. “We see people with bright red faces.”
Riviera calls the slots
You might have a bright red face at Riviera, but not because of sunburn. You might just blush if you get to play in a slot tournament with NASCAR driver Kyle Busch.
NASCAR drivers make a pit stop for charity at the Riviera hotel. Race fans can enjoy a series of events as part of NASCAR March Race Weekend from March 8 – 11.
The events begin Thursday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m. with a slot tournament benefiting the Kyle Busch foundation. Guests who earn their way into the finals face off with Kyle Busch. The top three winters receive an autographed die-cast car, special trophy and get a picture taken with Busch and his wife. Entry into the slot tournament is $118 (special discount for Kyle Busch fan club members). All participants must be at least 21 years old.
In addition, Nationwide and Sprint Cup drivers from various teams will be on location Friday, March 9, at 8 p.m. for autographs. Sprint Cup drivers scheduled to appear include Las Vegas native Kurt Busch, David Reutimann, Dave Blaney, Kenny Schrader, Robert Richardson, Jr., and Scott Riggs. Nationwide drivers include Eric McClure, Jennifer Jo Cobb, and Johanna Long (appearances are subject to change without notice).
NASCAR fans can also get a close look at Casey Mears’ GEICO Sprint Cup car, on display in the casino during the weekend.
PBR Rockbar and Grill
PBR Rock Bar & Grill inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood invites NASCAR fans to party. This Las Vegas Strip-side eatery offers an open bar and dining specials Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11.
Those with proof of NASCAR ticket stubs can enjoy a 10 percent dining discount throughout the weekend, along with open bar within an hour after the races finish.
You can also watch races from one of the 105 high-definition TVs plastered from wall to wall.
If you haven’t peeked inside PBR yet, the bustling bar and grill offers a selection of drinks and bull rides in its sprawling, 16,800-square-foot venue. Bull riders may attempt to defy gravity on PBR Rock Bar & Grill’s daunting hydraulic mechanical bull.
Enjoy American comfort food and barbeque around the clock, including the restaurant’s popular Doritos-crusted macaroni and cheese dish. This savory plate is smothered in homemade creamy cheese sauce and topped with Doritos chips.
Other spots to check out during your NASCAR-filled weekend
- Fremont Street Experience: From Thursday, March 8 to Sunday, March 11, NASCAR takes over Downtown Las Vegas. With plenty of fast-paced fun, the racing weekend will feature drink specials, NASCAR merchandise booths and three days of rocking entertainment with AC/DC tribute band Bonfire, Red Not Chili Peppers, Arena and Jay Bolan Band.
- The Pub at Monte Carlo: NASCAR fans can enjoy drink specials on Thursday, March 8 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. The first 100 guests are guaranteed autographs from Michael Waltrip and Clint Bowyer. On Friday, March 9 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., Michael McDowell and Jason Bowles, followed by Bobby Labonte and Brad Daugherty who will meet with fans until 9 p.m.
- Rockhouse Bar and Nightclub at Imperial Palace: Just next door to Harrah’s (how convenient!), you’ll also have a blast at Rockhouse. Here, you can party hard after the races and leave with a guitar-shaped drink souvenir cup. Doesn’t get more rockin’ than that. From Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 11, all ticket holders to NASCAR weekend receive complimentary admission until midnight. Those not attending race can catch all the action on 28 high-definition TV screens. Drink specials are available.
- Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar at Harrah’s: NASCAR and country fans can enjoy food, drinks, Toby Keith memorabilia as well as his music videos streaming continuously on flat-screen televisions. Don’t miss out on the restaurant’s sweet potato pecan pie with bourbon ice cream.
- Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer: Located inside Excalibur, guests can shift into gear at Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer for NASCAR events Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11. Through the weekend, indulge in the “Pitmaster Special” priced at $19.95 per person. This includes a quarter pound of brisket, two spare ribs and a hot link sandwich with a choice of two sides. On Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., enjoy $5 happy hour food specials like pork sandwiches, chicken wings, green chile queso and chips and original (or cheddar and jalapeño) sausage sandwiches. Other specials include $3 draft beers and $5 well drinks and house wine. Enjoy live entertainment and karaoke.
- Hard Rock: Located inside the Hard Rock Hotel, guests can meet Kyle Busch at the Hard Rock Store and get an autograph on Friday, March 9 from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Madame Tussauds Las Vegas: NASCAR fans can see wax figures of the late Dale Earnhardt, his son as well as Jeff Gordon. Through Sunday, March 11, visitors who show their NASCAR ticket stub at the box office will receive $10 off admission.
- Stoney’s Rockin’ Country: Located south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard (a quarter-mile north of South Point hotel), you can get your two-step on at the bar’s huge dance floor, have a spin on the mechanical bull and get a taste of the party life off the Strip.
- Pole Position Raceway: Inspired to have a race of your own? Then check out Pole Position, an indoor race track featuring straightaways, hairpin turns and more. If you want to take the action outdoors and can’t get enough of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, check out our race car tours.
Tips for when you’re at the races
When you’re outside all day in Vegas – rain or shine - you have to come prepared. As many times as I went to the drift or drag race events at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there was always something I forgot. Here’s a list to help make your trip to the Speedway the best possible:
- Bring a hat. If it’s hot, bring a baseball cap or a straw hat so you don’t tire your arms from shielding your face. Sunglasses are a plus too. Don’t forget sunscreen — who wants to spend the rest of their trip in Vegas with a sunburn?
- Take a light jacket, even if the weather report says it’ll be warm. Vegas is known to get mighty chilly once the sun sets, even during this time of year.
- Carry cash. A lot of places may not take debit or credit cards and you don’t want to deal with pesky fees from ATMs. Also, make sure to keep your wallet in a secure place at all times.
- Keep yourself hydrated all day and down plenty of H20.
- While all ages are welcome, make sure you have enough to keep the kiddos entertained all day. Also, if you are bringing kids, consider bringing earplugs for them.
- Be mindful of traffic. Helicopter rides do speed up the process, so you might want to keep that in mind.