Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 1, 2010….       (photo by Hannah Rickards)

“Good Whisky, Good Gamble, and Fine Women”, Las Vegas pioneer Benny Binion proclaimed would make Las Vegas grow and prosper.  In 2010, it certainly has all the above; however Las Vegas has also been a ‘hot bed’ of drag racing since the early fifties.

In a few days, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be alive with the first of two 2010 NHRA events at THE STRIP! Since I live here along with several of my colleagues, Clarence, Ron, and Len; we decided to bring you ‘Then and Now’ about drag racing in Las Vegas, the way it started back, ‘Then’ and the way it is ‘Now’.

LVMS 2008 Las Vegas did have a Professional Top Fuel team prior to the economy funk.  This is Hillary Will driving for Ken Black/Connie Kalitta at The Strip!


Henderson,NV. 1961: This is ‘Lefty’ Mudersbach with his twin engine Chevrolet dragster fed by a whole bunch of Stromberg 97 carbs. 

Drag racing started in the Las Vegas valley about 1952 on Vegas Valley Drive and then shifted to what is now the city’s Municipal Golf course. In 1958 the City of Henderson provided a WWII auxiliary runway and Southern Nevada had its first sanctioned drag strip. I was at Henderson Dragway in 1959 with a convoy of racers from Arizona, as a spectator. Local drag racers who were there include; Cliff Finley and the Finley Olds Special, Chuck Swift (Chuck has raced and won at every track in the Vegas valley), Gary Green, and Ron Landrum.

Quoting an earlier DRO article:  “In 1961, AHRA made a bold move west when it hosted its first Winter Championships on January 28-29 in Henderson, Nevada. As with so many first-time drag races, there were problems. There were no lights at the old airport track and the race was called on account of darkness. The three teams left for overall Top Eliminator honors were Waters-Sughrue-Guinn (A / FD), Chet Herbert-Lefty Mudersbach (AA/GD), and Fred Dabney A/MR. ‘Lefty’ & Herbert were declared the winner by virtue of low E.T. at 8.82."