roar of powerful engines will once again echo through the Las Vegas Motor
Speedway this coming weekend, when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to
compete on the 1«-mile tri-oval.
stars as Jack Sprague, Joe Ruttman, Willy T. Ribbs and locals Kyle Bush and
Brendan Gaughan will be among the many drivers attempting to qualify for one of
36 spots in the starting lineup. Sprague and Ruttman are in one of the closest
battles for the championship, since Ron Hornaday barely led Jack coming into
Las Vegas in 1998. Hornaday went on to become the champion that year and has
since advanced to Winston Cup competition.
Gaughan stands 35th in points, having
competed in only five previous truck races with two top five and three top 10
finishes to his credit. One of his sponsors will be The Orleans Hotel as well
as NAPA. The local racer, who has ambitions of eventually racing in the Major
League, will also compete in the Winston West event Saturday evening. The son
of Michael Gaughan, a former off-road racing champion, Brendan is the defending
series champion and is leading the points race coming into this event. Fellow
Las Vegan, teenager Kyle Busch will make his fifth start in the truck series.
In four previous starts Kyle finished in the top 10 once, but was within a few
laps of winning a series event when he ran out of gas. The Las Vegas Speedway
should be the perfect track for either of the local racers to pull off an upset
Great tickets for the weekend are on sale at the
speedway with action getting underway Saturday morning, starting with Winston
West qualifying in the morning, NASCAR Southwest Series qualifying at noon and
the Craftsman Trucks earning spots on the starting grid at 2 pm. Racing gets
underway Saturday evening with the Southwest cars at 6:30 pm., followed by
Winston West competition at 8 pm. The trucks race Sunday afternoon at 3 pm.
This writer attended an event the other evening that
is not on my normal schedule of things I want to see and hear. But, wow, did I
come away awed by the occasion. I accompanied realtor Cathy Bittinger to the
opening event for the Charles Vanda Master Series at UNLV. If one is a novice
to classical music I would venture to say there is no better way to get
indoctrinated than to see and listen to the great Philadelphia Orchestra. It is
recognized, and deservedly so, as one of the most well known orchestras in the
country and is, incidentally, entering its 101st year of existence.
Fortunately for me Ms. Bittinger, a former violinist
and one-time member of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, was able to
answer my questions when I asked them, which was quite often. The evening began
with a fantastic and patriotic unscheduled opening of our National Anthem
played by the 90-plus musicians, which quickly became a sing-along. It was
beautiful! The conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch then gave the down stroke (or
upstroke) and the evening got underway. For the next two hours (with an
intermission) the orchestra played three classical selections beginning with a
selection composed by Strauss (I enjoyed) followed by a number composed by
Smetana (enjoyed) and ending with a long Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat
major which was interesting. All
in all this was an entertaining evening of fine music and, believe it or not, I
am now looking forward to the remaining five parts of the series, beginning
with the Rising Stars of Classical Music on November 2nd; Frederica Von Stade,
Feb. 1, 2002; Vienna Chamber Orchestra, March 9; Australian Chamber Orchestra,
April 6 and closing out the season with the great Moscow Grigorovich Ballet on
April 26. There is truly a lot going on these days at the Performing Arts
Center and it's all very wonderful. For tickets and further information call
That's it for this week. I'm outa here!
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