Las Vegas Park Speedway
|Location||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Former names||Las Vegas Jockey Club|
|Major events||AAA, NASCAR, USAC|
|Length||1.0 mi (1.6 km)|
The Las Vegas Park Speedway was a horse and automobile racing facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was built to be a horse racing facility and it held single races in NASCAR Grand National (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series), AAA, and USAC Stock cars before it was demolished. It opened as the Las Vegas Jockey Club.
Joseph M. Smoot hitched a ride from lawyer Hank Greenspun to get from New York City in the eastern United States to Las Vegas. He claimed to have helped build tracks in California and Florida which turned out to be untrue. The track was built to be a major horse racing facility on the south side of Las Vegas. Smoot funded the track by convincing 8000 shareholders to give him $2 million. "Old Joe knew a track wouldn't have a chance and he said so when he came here in 1946," Greenspun later said in his biography. After the construction was delayed well past its original opening date, Smoot published an apology in a local newspaper. Smoot and two others were charged with felony embezzlement after he could not provide receipts for missing $500,000. A trustee was appointed by a federal judge to run the track. Smoot remained indicted until he was found dead in a hotel room two years later.
On September 4, 1953 the track was opened named the Las Vegas Jockey Club. Ticket booths and tote boards did not work properly and only one entrance discouraged customers. Customers had to wait one hour in traffic to park and some went home without attending. 8200 customers attended in the first day and the board of directors closed the track for two weeks after the third day to replace the ticket booths. The track was rapidly losing money, so the board closed after operating 13 days. It opened back up in 1954 to host quarter horse racing but closed after seven weeks.
Three major auto racing event were held on the track. In 1954, an American Automobile Association (AAA) Champ Car event was held at the track, followed by a 1955 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) race. The final race was a United States Auto Club (USAC) Stock Car event in 1959.
The American Automobile Association held its final Indy Car race of the 1954 season on November 14. The 100-mile (160 km) event was won by season champion Jimmy Bryan. 16 cars started the race and six of them were unable to return after being involved in a second lap wreck.
Championship car results
The track's only NASCAR event was held at the 1-mile dirt track on October 16, 1955. The 43rd event for the season was scheduled for 200 laps. The race was won by three-time USAC stock car champion Norm Nelson after darkness shorted the event to 111 laps; it was his only NASCAR win. He led the final 106 laps in a Chrysler owned by 1955 championship owner Carl Kiekhaefer. Nelson won the race by two laps.
- Norm Nelson
- Bill Hyde
- Bill West
- Sherman Clark
- Jim Murray
- Bob Ruppert
- Johnny Mantz
- Bill Stammer
- Ernie Young
- Bob Stanclift
- Tom Francis
- Fred Steinbroner
- Herb Crawford
- Danny Letner
- John Lansaw
- Allen Adkins
- John Kieper
- Ed Brown
- Herb Hill
- Virgil Martin
- Eddie Pagan
- Erick Erickson
- Clyde Palmer
- Bill Amick
- Carl Hoover
- Lloyd Dane
- Britton Jones
USAC stock car race
USAC held a 250 lap USAC Stock Car race which it co-sanctioned with Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) on November 29, 1959. The race was shortened to 147 laps on account of darkness; Fred Lorenzen won the race after starting from the pole position. 16 of 35 starters finished the race.
- Aumann, Mark (February 26, 2009). "From horses to motors, first Vegas track a disaster". NASCAR. Archived from the original on 2011-06-22. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- "NASCAR - Nextel Cup - UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 Preview". The Sports Network. 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "1954 AAA National Championship Trail". Champ Car Stats. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "1954 Silver State Century". Champ Car Stats. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "Today in History: January 30". NASCAR. January 30, 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- "Results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "Las Vegas Park Speedway results". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 24 February 2010.