Most people head to Las Vegas as a reprieve from work. My longtime buddy of many years, Brendan Gaughan leaves Las Vegas to get away from work. And in the COVID-19 era, Gaughan has been working overtime.
Whether it’s been doing his part to help homeschool his two boys, Michael James (age 9) and William Ryland (age 6) with his wife, Tatum, or earning more responsibility from his father, Michael (who this writer used to race off-road against a few years ago), in running the family’s casino business, or seeing his startup cleaning company, New Wave Cleaning Solutions, explode in the wake of COVID-19, Gaughan’s semi-retirement from NASCAR racing has seen the 44-year-old Las Vegas-native busier than ever.
Being able to drive the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro for Beard Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series and race at 200 mph on the circuit’s biggest track, surrounded by 39 other racers in the heat and humidity that is a hallmark of June in Alabama, is Gaughan’s way of unwinding.
The GEICO 500 Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is Gaughan’s getaway, and thanks to an impressive seventh-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 four months ago, Gaughan has a reserved seat in the 40-car field. Had he not scored that result back in February, Gaughan would likely be watching the GEICO 500 from his couch instead of seated in his racecar.
Unlike past races where Gaughan has participated in qualifying, taking full advantage of Beard Motorsports’ alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) that includes the power of an ECR-built engine, the field for this year’s GEICO 500 is being set by current owners’ points. Without that seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500, Beard Motorsports wouldn’t have had enough points to be ahead of the top-40 cutoff. Instead, the independent team is 39th in points, allowing Gaughan to line up with the best in stock-car racing.
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. Owned by Mark Beard Sr., president of Beard Motorsports and various family businesses, Beard Motorsports has taken a strategic approach to its racing endeavors, forming a technical partnership with RCR, and running only the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. With cars constructed by RCR and powered by ECR engines, Beard Motorsports has scored three top-10 finishes, including an eighth-place drive in April 2019 at Talladega where Gaughan led five laps.
Gaughan has made 13 NASCAR Cup Series starts with Beard Motorsports, all coming at Daytona and Talladega. And in a series dominated by multicar teams with hundreds of employees, Beard Motorsports does it with one full-time employee, crew chief Darren Shaw. Its one part-time employee, car chief Drew Mickey, is a fulltime, industrial plumber. And the two mechanics that come in on race weekends – one is a boat captain (Nic Hill) and the other is an automotive body technician (Jack Cagnon).
This throwback race team has proven it can hang with the multicar outfits whose “guys back at the shop” reach into the hundreds. Want proof? Look beyond Gaughan’s seventh-place drive in the Daytona 500 and focus on his most recent visit to Talladega last October where five laps short of the finish, Gaughan took the lead as the field approached turn three of the 2.66-mile oval. Unfortunately, Gaughan never made it through turn three, as he was sent airborne after being collected in a multicar accident. Gaughan walked away from the spectacular crash unhurt, and despite the 27th-place finish, remained upbeat as he spoke to reporters outside the infield care center following a precautionary medical evaluation.
The No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro had run up front and was “this close” to slaying Goliath. Gaughan could taste the victory, and while the outcome proved to be bittersweet, it set the stage for Gaughan’s run in this year’s Daytona 500. With that finish under his belt and the same No. 62 Camaro awaiting him Sunday at Talladega, Gaughan is happy to leave Las Vegas and say, “Viva Talladega.”
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY
June is Adopt-A-Cat Month. The month brings attention to the thousands of kittens born each year who join the millions of cats already in animal shelters and rescues across the U.S. 2020 marks the 45th annual Adopt-A-Cat Month and is encouraging animal lovers to adopt a “pandemic pet.” The event also coincides with “kitten season.” Hearts Alive Village has already taken in more than 300 kittens and expects to surpass the 1,000-kitten mark from 2019.
“Every year, millions of cats end up in our country’s shelters and, according to the Humane Society, 70% of them won’t make it out,” said Executive Director Christy Stevens. “We are working to change that, pulling cats from our local shelter and providing owner support to prevent pets from ending up there in the first place.”
All cats and kittens adopted through Hearts Alive Village are fully vetted. This includes being spayed or neutered, up-to-date on vaccines, and micro-chipped. The cost of adoption is $65 for cats over one year old and $100 for kittens under 1 year. Cats are available at a variety of locations including: the rescue’s main adoption center, senior cats at Oldies But Goodies, two doors down, and two Petsmart locations. Kittens are in foster homes and (when available for adoption) can be viewed on the organization’s website: https://www.heartsalivevillage.org/.
The rescue will feature a different cat each week to celebrate the month-long event. This week’s cat is Rainbow, a beautiful 13- year old kitty whose owner died. She is sweet and loving, and excited to meet her forever family. Rainbow is currently at Oldies But Goodies. Her adoption fee is $65, and she is spayed, micro-chipped, and up-to-date on her vaccines. Hearts Alive Village Adoption Center: 1750 S. Rainbow Blvd # 4; HAV’s Oldies But Goodies Senior Adoption Center: 1750 S. Rainbow Blvd # 9, and Petsmart: 2140 N. Rainbow Blvd or Petsmart at 6980 N. 5th Street
Just as the city’s famed “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” neon sign says “Drive Carefully – Come Back Soon,” two of five 53’ semi-trucks were photographed leaving Las Vegas Tuesday loaded with some of the iconic brand’s most prized, authentic music memorabilia that adorned the walls of the now-closed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
Select memorabilia items included: Elvis Presley’s Key to the City of Las Vegas: Britney Spears’ iconic schoolgirl outfit from her “…Baby One More Time” video; Jimi Hendrix’s jacket worn on the day of his death; Prince’s Cloud Guitar and Stage Outfit; Johnny Cash’s autographed and inscribed Martin Guitar; Trent Reznor of NIN’s autographed synth, and Nikki Sixx’s motorcycle
“We are transporting some of the most valuable pieces of memorabilia in our collection,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming. “While the doors to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas remain closed for now, we look forward to bringing the exciting Hard Rock atmosphere back to Las Vegas, which will always be one of the most iconic entertainment markets in the world.”
Hard Rock Cafe® Las Vegas on the famous Las Vegas Strip remains open and will host a live stream concert featuring Vegas born rockers Adelitas Way tomorrow, Wed., June 17, 2020 at 4 p.m. PDT at https://m.facebook.com/hardrockcafelasvegasstrip/. Those looking to dine at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas can make a reservation by visiting www.hardrockcafe.com/location/las-vegas/.
In May, Hard Rock International announced that the world-renowned entertainment and hospitality brand purchased all rights to the Hard Rock® brand and related trademarks in Las Vegas from Houston-based private equity firm, Juniper Capital, which purchased the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas in 2018 from Brookfield Asset Management. The purchase gives Hard Rock International the right to develop a Hard Rock branded casino and resort within Clark County.
Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, inside Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, is open for its 2020 season. Sitting at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet, the comparatively tranquil North Rim receives just one-tenth of the visitation of the South Rim and is known for its recreational activities including hiking trails, mule rides and exploring the local flora and fauna.
To comply with current public health guidelines, the historic lodge will open with certain operational changes, including offering takeout orders and grab and go food options including pizza and sandwiches available at the deli and the saloon. Also, a limited restaurant menu for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 9:00 p.m. The general store is open. A limited number of cabins will be available to guests to account for social distancing. In addition, staff will no longer share living quarters and will be housed separately in observance of social distancing mandates.
“As people increasingly seek outdoor destinations for the 2020 summer travel season, we have enhanced our already high cleanliness standards,” said John Schoppmann, executive vice president, Forever Resorts, the concessioner operating Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim. “We continue to monitor new guidelines to ensure our public health protocol follows the latest recommendations to safeguard the health of our staff members and guests.”
Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim is the only lodging inside the National Park on the North Rim. Located at Bright Angel Point, the Lodge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The original Lodge was constructed in 1928 and burned in 1932. The current Lodge was rebuilt in 1937 using as much of the original structure as possible. Here guests may enjoy the quiet serenity of the North Rim while enjoying comfortable guest rooms and cabins. Our cabins were constructed in the 1930’s and 1940’s. While restrooms and showers have since been added, these cabins retain their original rustic charm.
To this day, not one of the cabins has a television or radio. The Lodge Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. It features regional cuisine; all-natural beef and poultry products are antibiotic and hormone free and the wine list showcases American organic selections available by the glass. Meanwhile the Gift Shop purveys Grand Canyon souvenirs, clothing and accessories. Free self-parking, bus, truck, and RV parking are available. For more information about the lodge, visit www.grandcanyonforever.com or www.facebook.com/grandcanyonnorthrim.
Hey, gang, if you’re looking for a really neat place to have dinner, then look no further than the good ol’ Bootlegger Bistro, 7700 Las Vegas Blvd “South Strip.” Featuring the recipes of award-winning Chef “Mama” Maria Perry, serving Las Vegas locals & visitors Since 1949.
Along with my guest, we called to make reservations and upon our arrival we were ushered into the dinning room area, where the tables were well spaced (according to the new rules) and all the employees were wearing face masks and gloves. Couldn’t recognize everyone but our waiter knew us and greeted us like a “long lost family member.”
We ordered our dinner from paper menu’s (they are discarded after we use them) and settled back for a wonderful evening of great food, wonderful conversation, and the piano styling of Doug Taylor at the ivory keys (he’s there every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 6:00 to9:00 p.m.). Mariano Gonzalez takes over the Harp on Wednesday and Thursday (same hours) with vocalist, composer (personal friend), at the piano George Bugatti on Friday and Saturday.
So, gang, you know where to possibly find me especially on a Friday or Saturday evening.