It's The Norm
October 11-17, 2001 ARCHIVES
"It's The Norm" - Recent Entertainment Events in Las Vegas

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series & Charles Vanda Master Series

by Norm Johnson
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The 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.

Such driving 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 victory.

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 895-2787.

That's it for this week. I'm outa here!

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