Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 | 1:29 p.m.
2013 NASCAR Victory Lap
2013 NASCAR Victory Lap
Hats off to our Metro Police for running such a smooth operation today for the 2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week Victory Lap. Despite cold temperatures in the low 40s — and feeling colder with the near icy wind chill — thousands of fans packed the route along the Strip in a loop from Planet Hollywood up to Palazzo and back past a six-second, tire-change pit stop at Bellagio Fountains.
Police closed off the Strip in sections just before the racecar stars revved up and reopened it immediately after they’d gone by. It was a smart move that minimized traffic tie-ups on our city’s most congested roadway.
Everything went as planned: Fire Department trucks and ambulances on hand for any emergency weren’t needed, and motorcycle police outriders kept thousands of fans safe on the sidewalks. The fans were packed solid on bridges and restaurant patios up and down the Victory Lap.
The only mishap was to Kurt Busch’s #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, which burned out during the burnout doughnuts outside the Palazzo and Wynn intersection at Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road. A tow truck pushed the still-smoking car to the end of the 13-car parade and then back home.
I introduced all 13 top NASCAR drivers to the fans before they revved and roared the Strip: #13 Carl Edwards, #12 Kasey Kahne, #11 Ryan Newman, #10 Kurt Busch, #9 Greg Biffle, #8 Joey Logano, #7 Clint Bowyer, #6 Jeff Gordon, #5 Dale Earnhardt Jr., #4 Kyle Busch, #3 Kevin Harvick, #2 Matt Kenseth and #1 for his sixth series title in eight years, 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
In 2010, Jimmie made history as the only driver in NASCAR history to win five consecutive championships. He is now one title shy of tying the all-time record for championships. After the Victory Lap and a second set of burnouts at the intersection of Harmon and the Strip, the drivers went to the fan-packed “After the Lap” Q+A at Pearl at the Palms.
On Friday night, they have the black-tie awards at the Wynn and broadcast live on Fox. Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins were thrilled with the news of NASCAR’s decision to re-up Champion’s Week through 2017, as I reported this morning.
Tom told me: “They really love being in Las Vegas. They much prefer Las Vegas over New York. They couldn’t even race the cars there, and it was much more expensive to stage. I think we can keep them coming here forever.”
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery of the Strip action and Richard Corey for his videos aboard the chase bus posted on YouTube. NASCAR returns March 7-9 weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.
Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.