The final race of the 2015 season of the AMA-pro flat track series would take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on a particularly small indoor short-track.
The AMA-pro races would be on Friday. Saturday would be the "Super-Prestigio" race, which would include many participants who were motorcycle racers, but not necessarily flat track racers. The unlikely name comes from the race in Spain that started this thing.
Riding there would be unrealistic (as the heavy rain and cold encountered along the way would prove) but it really isn't all that far to drive.
Hoover Dam, completed in 1936. For whatever reason, this dam draws visitors as no other. I was here a couple of years back, but it was too late in the day to go through the new visitor center. Today, I'd have time.
The water level is very low.
The new visitor center, along with the larger parking garage is a tremendous improvement over what had been here since the dam was completed.
The exhibits are professionally done, but I wish they had kept many of the old photographs that the old center had (the old center had lots and lots of photographs).
A nice model showing the dam partly completed. The chart on the right shows the hourly wages (mostly 75 cents) for the different jobs.
The large monuments have been here since the beginning. The various memorial plaques have moved around over the years (at one time some being on the other side of the river). Now, everything is in one spot, just across the street from the visitor center.
The "High Scaler" memorial with the list of names on the backside.
In Boulder City I stayed at the Boulder Dam Hotel. The dam is officially "Hoover Dam" but when this hotel was built, it was called "Boulder Dam." It's quite a large hotel; but, only twenty rooms are now used by guests.
The hotel lobby.
Boulder City in the daylight. The city was especially laid out to support the construction of the dam. That's the Bureau of Reclamation building at the end of the avenue, which would have been the center of all decisions during construction.
The city has a nice history museum on the ground floor of the dam. It actually goes into better detail of the construction process than does the official museum at the dam.
The races wouldn't be starting until later in the day. I had time to drive west to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is run by the Bureau of Land Management.
There's a one-way driving loop through the area, from which there are a number of hiking trails that will take you much farther into the hills.
Just beyond those rocks, and down the hill, you can see the whole of Las Vegas. But, from here, you wouldn't know that you were all that close. It's a remarkable place.
It's time for the races.
The paddock was outside the arena (of the Orleans Hotel). There was enough room "back-stage" of the arena to hold the racers who would shortly be on the track.
The Orleans Casino is about a half-mile off the strip. Anywhere else in the U.S. this place would be considered huge and flashy and a major tourist draw. But, in Las Vegas? It's just another big-box casino on the sidelines.
I was there for the first rounds of practice (a ticket wasn't required; anybody could be here). The layout of the track turned out to be quite clever. Instead of a half-circle radius at each end, there's a sharp point. The fastest way around the track was to clip the point, but to make your turn either before or after. This meant that there were any number of quick ways to get around and that the riders never developed a single-file line that sometimes happens on short-tracks.
It takes all sorts of track preparation equipment to keep things smooth. Overall they did a good job. While it got bumpy towards the end; it never seemed to be so bad that the luck-of-the-bumps was deciding the winner.
After the practice sessions, we were asked to leave, and then to return in an hour (this time a ticket would be required).
The show opened with a quick performance by "kid rock." The name is in quotes, as (this being Vegas) it is much more likely that this is only a younger imitation of the real thing.
Compared to other AMA flat track races, fewer motorcycles could be on the track at the same time--it's just too small. The photo below (right) shows what I meant by the quick line not being a sharp turn around the end point, but to widen your turn, keeping your speed up.
Given the crowd, you'd think there'd be more riders going down. Those that did stall or fall were generally removed from the track quickly enough that the races rarely had to be stopped.
The real question going into this race was if Jared Mees would win the Grand National championship. He did, by finishing third and by his closest competitors failing to make the main event.
Another day and another park before the races. This is the Valley of Fire State Park, which is several miles north-east of Las Vegas.
You really need to hike into these formations, which I did--following the Rainbow Vista Trail.
Once you reach this point on the trail, it'd be tough climbing to go any farther.
And, back at the casino... The gaming floor is quite large. What's upstairs? Bowling. Many lanes of bowling.
The Super-Prestigio opened (as did the AMA races) with the national anthem by a Sacramento trio, and then we were entertained by "Elvis." The quotes are obvious for this one. There are many specialties when it comes to being Elvis; this is "Aloha Elvis."
I liked how these racers were done. Lots and lots of short heats with fewer motorcycles in each. The starting line was behind steel gates that would fall (as for a motocross race). Any rider leaving too soon would hit the gate, and there'd be a battle for them to get untangled and on their way. The racers hardly had time to get back to the staging area before they'd be lining up for the next heat. Things moved fast.
Jared Meese, crowned the Grand National champion the night before, won this race. Not surprisingly, the top three finishers were all professional flat track racers.
I expected pretty poor racing, considering the size of the track, but it turns out that they really were very good and very competitive. I've been to several short-track events where the winner was virtually decided by being the first rider to make it around the first turn, but that was not the case here. The outcome was often in doubt up to the final lap.