Well, gang, it that time of the year again, when the roar of horsepower (the mechanical type) is heard for miles emanating from the confines of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and its ¼ mile-dragstrip (track) called The Strip. Oh, did I fail to mention that is where those same mechanical things called dragsters also shake the earth like a monster earthquake as they shoot down The Strip at 300 m.p.h., plus. Just sayin’ these are not your typical car in the garage. Nope these are the fastest cars in the world in competition.
The last time Shawn Langdon was at The Strip at the Speedway, he was mired in a frustrating early-season slump that included five straight first-round losses to open the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Much has changed since that March race and Langdon is now in the midst of an impressive finish to his year. The 2013 Top Fuel world champion has posted three victories, including one in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, and sits in third place in his 10,000-horsepower Red Fuel/Sandvik dragster heading back to Las Vegas Oct. 27-30 for the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals.
“What we did at the beginning of the year, nobody was hanging their heads,” said Langdon, who is 172 points back of teammate and points leader Antron Brown. “You’re just going to go through struggles once in a while. But what we’ve done since is what we’re capable of. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in my first full year as a driver with the team. We’ve got a great car, a great team and everyone’s done a great job.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1 this October. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
The race is the fifth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship and the penultimate event of the 2016 NHRA season. Langdon has his sights set on a big finish and capitalizing on his recent victory in St. Louis.
“Starting the Countdown in seventh, we’ve made a really good move and have a great chance to finish second,” said Langdon, who trails Kalitta by just 22 points. “We still have a very, very outside chance to win a championship, but second place is nothing to hang your head about in this class. There’s so many tough, competitive teams and we’re just going to continue to try and win races.”
Langdon’s late-season surge is even more impressive considering his first-round loss at the Countdown opener in Charlotte. The team, led by crew chiefs Phil Shuler and Todd Okuhara, has responded with a victory and two semifinal finishes, and Langdon hopes to dial it up even more in Las Vegas and then the finale in Pomona.
“This a great race at a great facility and one of the races you definitely look forward to every year,” Langdon said. “It’s obviously a big race and it would be really good to end the year on a good note. Being one of the races for your sponsor and knowing you’ll have a lot of friends and family there, you definitely get up for these kinds of races.”
John Force’s racing teammate Hight won in Funny Car last year, but Ron Capps currently holds a 24-point advantage over Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps also must hold off the likes of Jack Beckman, reigning world champ Del Worsham and Matt Hagan.
Enders clinched her second straight Pro Stock championship a year ago with a Vegas win, but this season has belonged to teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Points leader Line has eight wins in 2016 and Anderson, who is 45 points back, has seven.
Hines’ Vegas victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2015 helped clinch a second straight title. Hines has five wins this year and has a 38-point lead on teammate Eddie Krawiec.
The NHRA Toyota Nationals also features competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and two final rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets available online at www.lvms.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info visit www.NHRA.com.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Pete Storm, the handsome Londoner who is the most honored and decorated Elvis Presley Tribute Artist in the world, will be taping his new live theatrical show, “Rendezvous With The King,” in the world-famous Sammy Davis Jr. Showroom inside Harrah’s Reno. The British performer will take over “Sammy’s Showroom” for three very special performances on Thursday, October 27, Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29, 2016.
A good friend of this writer and those of us who remember him as a stand-up comedian, entertainment director and all-around nice guy, Cork Proctor, has been asked by producer Greg Thompson to come out of retirement in Ecuador and return to the stage performing as “Ghost of Elvis” in this very special presentation. And, of course, he accepted the gig. ‘It’s not very often that someone would give me a call and offer me a job at my age of 84. Heck, most of the time they were always asking me to leave the stage and not come back.”
The production is being written and produced for Harrah’s and Sammy’s Showroom by Thompson, whose “50th Anniversary Show” is currently thrilling audiences at Harrah’s Reno. The three performances will be open to the public and tickets are now on sale.
Storm is the reigning champion of the United Kingdom’s “Images of the King” competition, the European Masters Champion, The Graceland “World Champion” in Memphis and the Canadian Grand Champion. Storm has appeared all over the world. He has toured every European country and has performed in Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada and The United States.
Storm will not only perform his tribute show, but will talk throughout the performance to the King himself receiving “one on one advice” from Presley as Elvis shares his secrets and dreams with the young star. Storm will be backed by four outstanding singers, a spectacular video wall and will also perform a few songs from his new album, “Memphis-Coming Back Home.”
Las Vegans will celebrate a night of fashion and fundraising at the 7th Annual Fashion for Autism Gala on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. at the Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas (3730 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas). The theme of the evening is “Bringing a Solution Into Focus.” Featuring fashion by DVF (Diane von Furstenberg), the annual fashion event celebrates community members leading the fight against autism and benefits Grant a Gift Autism Foundation.
“Bringing a Solution into Focus” is based on Grant a Gift Autism Foundation’s new partnership with the UNLV School of Medicine, creating a state-of-the-art facility aimed at finding the new standard for autism diagnosis, research, programming and education in Nevada and the West Coast. Both organizations have joined forces to open the UNLV Medicine Ackerman Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Solutions. The new center combines cutting-edge diagnostics, treatment, behavioral/vocational training, support programs, and education for infants to young adults.
Attendees of Fashion for Autism will sip champagne while bidding on lavish and luxurious items at an exclusive silent auction beginning at 6:00 p.m. Following the reception, Kim and Dana Wagner from KSNV News 3, host the live fashion show sponsored by DVF. Guests will also enjoy an incredible live auction followed by the awards ceremony honoring two outstanding community leaders who have worked tirelessly to ensure that families dealing with autism receive the help and support needed. Gaudin Motor Company’s Gary Ackerman will be honored with the Ambassador for Autism Award and Len Jessup, president of UNLV, will receive the Autism Advocate Award. Former Grant a Gift program client Luke Kecman along with Megan Rose Crandy will both be awarded the Self-Advocate Community Achievement Award, for making significant accomplishments within the community.
Tickets are $300 per person in advance and available by calling 702.564.2453 or by emailing [email protected]. Tables of 10 are also available. Cocktail attire is required.
Fashion for Autism is presented by Gaudin Motor Company and Subway.
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week. I hope to have my trip to Washington D.C., as a member of the 2016 Honor Flight, up and running by next week. Right now, I’m awaiting word from a local publication if it will be picked up as a feature article in its publication.