LV Race Draws Big

LV Race Draws Big

“What do you know about cars?” a bookmaker was asked recently.

“You put gas in them, turn the meaningful and go,” he answered.

That’s the way it is with NASCAR.

Like sports fans in general, bet shop bosses love, hate or ignore auto racing.

You couldn’t pay some bookmakers to go to the track, already with VIP passes thrown in.

They love the business it brings, however, especially this particular weekend, when NASCAR makes its annual Southern Nevada stop.

Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the largest annual gathering in the Silver State, with upwards of 135,000 racing fans witnessing the UAW DaimlerChrysler 400.

The Daytona 500 used to be the sport’s main allurement at betting windows; the Las Vegas race passed it a number of years ago and bookmakers say it now outdraws the season launcher about 2/1.

Some books have staff specialists or hire individuals to formulate odds, others get lines offshore or put up numbers provided by Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

The car crazies already are out in complete force, casing stores and comparing prices.

You can feel it in the air, see it everywhere.

Newspapers are complete of weather reports, bus route maps and ads announcing driver personal appearances.

TV stop helicopters update viewers on traffic flow.

The Orleans, owned by truck driver Brendan Gaughn’s father, Michael, is a happening place.

So are Sam’s Town, the Boyd Group-owned great number character, the NASCAR Cafe and the Sahara, which devotes a large section of its building to NASCAR memorabilia.

Cardboard cutouts of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. stare blankly from supermarket displays for everything from beer to nuts.

The Downtown Fremont Street Experience is packed with replicas of racing cars, NASCAR t-shirts for sale and fans wearing jackets touting various drivers.

RV parks are complete.

Lounges are loaded with country-Western acts.

Rooms at Sam’s Town have been sold out for weeks.

“We’re starting to get busy, in the casino too,” Toni Edwards, a Sam’s Town sports book supervisor and NASCAR junkie, said on Thursday.

“We started seeing it this morning.”

Festive NASCAR flags, banners and pennants add flair to the air.

“We’ve got them around all the bars,” she said.

Edwards persuaded style Jake Kolleth at the Stardust — a former Sam’s Town colleague — to post matchups on the 400.

Kolleth is one of those bet shop dudes who knows to put gas in a car and twist the meaningful.

“Jake asked how he could do the matchups when he didn’t know anything about NASCAR,” Edwards recalled.

“I told him not to worry, I do, and that I’d list the names, he could put beside them and I’d tell him if they were right or wrong,” she said.

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