Why I won’t be a paying spectator again anytime soon

I went to Las Vegas for the NHRA race as a pure spectator with no intent of writing an editorial about the event and then, because of my experiences at that race, I ended up writing about my experience as a paying spectator.

This rant  is nothing more than a statement of exactly what happened to my wife and amyself as fans during our Saturday at the "Strip". If NHRA or Bruton Smith wonders where the drag race fans have gone, this should give them a good idea... if they take the time to absorb it.

Here's how this adventure started. Barb and I wanted to get away, so we looked for the best value for a three-day weekend. Of course Las Vegas came up. Vegas offers great hotel prices andall sorts of entertainment you will never see in Iowa. The entire Fremont Street Experience on Country Music Awards weekend was an added bonus and, oh yeah, there was an NHRA National Event going on at The Strip at Las Vegas as well, just in case we needed a break from the slots, the tables, and the crowds.

A good friend of mine was at the event running his Stock Eliminator car and we decided to make the trip to the Strip on Saturday morning. We arranged for a shuttle ride from the Golden Nugget on Fremont street to the ticket office at the Strip. Our cost was $35.00 each, round trip. So we're $70.00 down before we ever get to the track.

We get the GA tickets for Saturday, which cost $51.00 each so we have now spent $172.00 and we still aren’t in the race. We ask where the entrance gate is and a track employee points out the window and says it's "Right across the street." Cool, that sounded good. All we had with us was a small backpack with four bottle of water in it because the weather guys had said it was going to be the hottest day of the year (84 degrees) and the wind would be blowing 20-30 mph. Sounded like a day to stay hydrated.

We walk across the street, protected from the traffic by four security people (thanks guys!) and head for the first gate. We walked up to the three security people at the gate and they say, "You can't use those tickets here! You have to use the Spectator Gate". OK, I ask them where that gate is and I get three hands with fingers pointing up the hill about 1/4 mile away. I guess it was just too complicated to take the tickets at the first gate and tear the stub off? Not sure.

We hike to the Spectator Gate and their six employees and security people greet us with a, "Let's have a look in that bag." We tell them all that’s in the bag are a few bottles of water. "You can't bring anything in to drink or eat, but you can use the trash can over there." Seriously? We are in the middle of the desert and we cannot bring in two bottles of water? I can see the no beer or alcohol rules, but water? (Later I found out why.) They did say if we were in the process of drinking it she could let that bottle go. Oh, bless her for that executive decision... not!

Well, we didn't use the trash can. The spectator gate was virtually deserted with only twelve or fifteen people coming in while we sat there, so Barb and I each drank a bottles of water and handed the other two out to people coming in, telling them they were OK if they opened them first.