Monday, March 10, 2014 | 2:32 p.m.
Actor Jonathan Goldsmith, who portrays “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” has done just about everything for his TV commercials and acting fame. Until Sunday, though, he’d never delivered the four most famous words in motorsports: “Drivers, start your engines!”
It’s all about split-second timing even before the drivers roar onto the track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway at exactly 16 minutes and 30 seconds after midday for NASCAR’s 400.5-mile, 267-lap Kobalt 400 Sprint Cup Series.
With Fox broadcasting around the world at exactly noon, I introduced the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard to present the nation’s colors.
Exactly 20 seconds later LVMS chaplain Kurt Schulke offered the invocation. Another 25 seconds later, I introduced the cast members of “Million Dollar Quartet” from Harrah’s — including newcomer Kristen Hertzenberg — to perform the national anthem.
As they hit the last stanza — right on time — the United States Air Force Thunderbirds flew in formation over the track from the backstretch pit row to the front-stretch finish line.
I introduced Jonathan at exactly 7 1/2 minutes into the hour, and on cue the engines roared. He told me: “That’s a first. I’ve never had that honor before.”
Exploring pit row and sitting in on the earlier prerace driver meetings were hometown Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil and Luxor headliner comedian Carrot Top.
At Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Flamingo headliner Marie Osmond rode the track in the official NASCAR pace vehicle. Burlesque beauty Claire Sinclair of “Pin Up” at the Stratosphere handled Pole Day duties for the 400 won by Joey Logano.
However, it was two consecutive victories for Brad Keselowski in his Miller Lite Ford who started in position #2 and won the 300 and 400 races in a back-to-back, high-speed weekend. On Sunday, we posted our photo gallery of Brad attending a meet-and-greet at the D Las Vegas at the downtown Fremont Street Experience.
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his coverage of both days of NASCAR racing at LVMS.
Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors
There’s closer hope than ever before for a second NASCAR race at LVMS. Mayor Carolyn Goodman told me that she plans on all the talk becoming reality during her term.
I can reveal that there were long discussions between track owner Bruton Smith in his private suite overlooking the race and Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter.
“We’re the closest we’ve ever been,” Bruton told me. “I believe we will get this done sooner rather than later.” Also up in the suite: Dean Heller, Nevada Republican Senator; Christina Davidson, Miss zMax; and Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon.
Before NASCAR’s high-speed stars and fans departed Las Vegas for next weekend’s racing in Bristol, Tenn., several were spotted around town.
Driver Reed Sorenson managed a breakaway visit to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. During his first visit to the animal oasis, Sorenson got up close with Osborne, one of the nine bottlenose dolphins.
NASCAR double Nationwide and Sprint Cup series winner Brad Keselowski took his winning team to dinner at Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse at the D. Brad, who hails from Michigan, chose it because owner Joe Vicari and Andiamo are based in Detroit.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the Daytona 500 three weeks ago, was with his wife for a pre-racing lunch at Sushi Roku in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
Leaving Las Vegas, Dale is still at the top of the 2014 Sprint Cup standings, but by only 1 point over Brad. Dale has 133 points, with Brad nipping at his tires at 132. There are 33 races remaining in the season.
Driver Austin Dillon (#3 Cheerios Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing) joined NASCAR’s partnership with General Mills at Nellis Air Force Base to assist with a 15-pallet delivery of General Mills products to our Three Square food bank. It was 8,000 pounds of products that will assist nearly 7,000 individuals in our area.
“I’m really proud to help underprivileged families in the Las Vegas area,” said Austin. “Visiting Nellis Air Force Base today and also having the opportunity to give back to the men and women who fight for our country is an amazing experience and one that I’ll never forget.”
It was the cereal company’s first appearance this NASCAR season as Austin’s primary sponsor. While at Nellis AFB, the Rookie of the Year also gave away tickets to many of the military personnel who asked for autographs and photographs with the rising NASCAR star.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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