FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR’s year-ending awards celebration appears headed to Las Vegas after nearly three decades in New York.
“Well, we sure hope so,” said track owner Bruton Smith, who has long pushed for the move.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Friday that the city’s Convention and Visitors Authority had reached an initial agreement to host the Sprint Cup awards banquet, beginning this year. Final details were still being discussed.
“Las Vegas presents some very interesting options, but nothing has been finalized,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.
Smith owns eight NASCAR tracks, including Las Vegas and Texas, where the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series run this weekend. He said he has tried for three years to get the season-ending banquet moved to Las Vegas.
“I’m glad that NASCAR is making good decisions,” Smith said. “The hotel rooms will be half or less than New York. It won’t be snow and ice on the ground. … Hopefully, they will get some production company that will put this thing together and do it, and do it right.”
He mentioned the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino as possible locations.
“They seat 16,000. Maybe we could sell 10,000 tickets to the race fans and let them come and enjoy the festivities,” Smith said. “That’s what I’d like to see.”
Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton said he supports any move that adds more excitement and provides for more fan involvement in the year-end event that has been held in New York since 1981.
“At the end of the day, our banquet needs some life injected into it. … We need something new and exciting,” Burton said. “It needs something that’s built around fun, built around excitement that embraces the fans more. Vegas may give us a better opportunity to do that.”
Las Vegas-born Kyle Busch said it would be special to have the year-ending celebration in his hometown.
“It’d be pretty cool. I look forward to it if it happens,” Busch said. “We always like going to New York. I know the girlfriends love going there for the shopping.
“Vegas will be a little bit different in that respect, but at least the weather might be a little warmer.”