I knew Harry Reid. He was one of my mentors in a way. We re-met in 1966 when I was the featured sports columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. Harry loved going to the fights, be it a major championship bout at the Las Vegas Convention Center, or the fights promoted by Bill Miller at the Silver Slipper Casino on the Strip.
I first met him prior to my moving to Las Vegas, when Former Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis (I was his publicist in Los Angeles in the late ’50s and into the ’60s) and we would come up for a title fight, etc. Reid was always ring-side. The two men would make it a point to take a few moments to chat before or after a fight. It was a friendship that lasted until Joe’s passing in 1981.
Eventually, in early 1967, I was hired by the Mint Hotel in downtown Las Vegas to become the new Assistant Director of Special events, Public Relations, and Entertainment. One of our major promotions at the hotel was bringing in famous country music headliners to perform in our Convention Center. I remember like it was just yesterday: We booked Red Foley as our first headliner and guess who was on the phone wondering if he could get a couple seats. At that time Harry was the District Attorney for Henderson. He would politely ask for two, sometimes four tickets, and I would notify the Maitre D’ to hold seats for him and his party—as most of the time he would arrive just as the show was starting, That went on through the end of the ‘60s.
In the mid-seventies I met Clark Bingham, a licensed CPA agent and a member of the Lamb family (through marriage), who was a close personal friend of Harry’s too. Clark and I had partnered on an off-road racing buggy by the time Reid had been elected to Lt. Governor’s office. One day Clark called me and asked to meet with him and Harry at his office on Charleston Blvd, that he had a proposal to present to us. He needed some money to put together a Fish Worm farm near Ash Meadows.
It was agreed each of us would put equal amounts of dollars in the kitty. We rented some land, had wood planters built, put a lot of manure in the long stretch of planters, purchased the starting worms, hired a caretaker, and sat back and waited for our worms to multiply, Clark was so sold on this idea that he guaranteed if we didn’t triple our investment he would return our money.
Well, a long story cut down to a quickie: Can’t remember the exact year, but around the middle ‘70s, anyways that was the year a major rainstorm struck the desert, and our worm farm became a victim – the worms drowned, and the wood planters collapsed, It was a total loss for us. In later years whenever we met he would always tell this story: “Norm is the only person I ever lost money with on an investment…” and he would be laughing as he told everyone around him the story of how he lost,
Over the years, after he had been elected to the United States Senate, I would on occasion meet up with him at Johnny Mac’s Restaurant & Bar in Henderson for a quick lunch and some short stories of our good times together. Those were some of the best times ever.
And according to long-time friend Curt Thompson, at one time the G.M. of the Railroad Pass Hotel/Casino, Harry loved to stop in and have dinner in the Steak Room (with very little advance notification) whenever he was home from the Senate. His secret service would tag along, with Reid always picking up the tab for the group.
One specific visit stands out. The Railroad Pass was a historic casino dating back to its opening in 1933. There were a few roof leaks and whenever it rained, therefore we would put buckets on the floor to catch the leaking water. The senator picked one of those rainy nights to come in from his visits to Searchlight, where he was born and raised. Buckets were everywhere including the Steak Room. Upon arrival he, along with the entourage, smiled and sorta laughed and headed straight to the restaurant. Harry Reid was always polite, cordial, and understanding, and never demanding. Senator Raid was a Nevada Champion.
Harry Reid was a down-to-earth type of guy. If you where his friend there was hardly anything he wouldn’t do for you, as long as it was legal of course. He WAS a man who walked in unison with the everyday person, Reid left behind him some great memories, and over the years when he endorsed a democrat for an elected office it was like putting money in the bank.
One of those was Senator Jacky Rosen who sent along her thought about our loss: “Nobody worked harder or accomplished more to deliver for Nevada and defend our state’s interests. As Majority Leader, Senator Reid delivered the Affordable Care Act, passed Wall Street reform, and rescued Nevada’s economy from the depths of the Great Recession. He fought tirelessly for bold action against the climate crisis and comprehensive immigration reform. He celebrated the growing diversity of our state and led the push to make Nevada the First in the West to select our Democratic presidential candidates. Everything he did was rooted in a boundless passion for putting Nevada first and helping hardworking Americans.”
Fortunately for Nevada he was our guy, born and raised in Nevada, He was the man for everybody. He is gone now but “wow” he will be remembered for years to come.
Harry Reid: December 2nd, 1939 – December 28th, 2021
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
The Shock Therapy Parker 250 Presented by BlueWater Resort Hotel and Casino will run from Jan. 6, 2022, to Jan. 8, 2022, open to Motorcycle, Quad, and UTV Classes. For the first time ever, Best In The Desert will be qualifying the motorcycle Open Professional Class, as well as the UTV professional classes. The UTV classes will be combined in Time Trials, therefore racers will start where they qualify regardless of class.
The race will run 250 miles of challenging, yet scenic terrain along the Colorado River. Racers can expect the same challenges as years past like the Osbourne Wash, Midway, and The Rock Pile. Also, for the first time ever, the Shock Therapy Parker 250 Presented by BlueWater Resort Hotel and Casino will run the entire 125-mile racecourse in reverse, an exciting and demanding change for veteran competitors and spectators.
Best In The Desert has also finalized a three-year deal with CBS Sports Network to air select events. Thus, the Shock Therapy Parker 250 will air on the CBS Sports network no more than two weeks after the conclusion of the event. Stay tuned for an air date.
Big names already registered include Dustin Jones, Ryan Piplic, Bruce Binquist, Seth Quintero, Brandon Simms, Jason Murray, Justin Lambert, Vito Ranuio, PJ Jones, Sierra Romo, and Justin Smith in the Pro Turbo Class; Michael Pascarella (founder of Desert Vets Racing), teen superstar Dallas Gonzalez, and Josh Row in the Pro NA Class; Chris Blais, Dan Fisher, Jim Beaver and Jonathan McVay in the Trophy Unlimited Class; Series Champ Hayden Hintz and the Factory Beta team racers in the Open Pro Class
This year will see new UTV rules and the Best In The Desert UTV Classes organized as such: UTV Sportsman Rally, UTV Super Stock, UTV NA Production, UTV Trophy Unlimited, UTV Turbo Production, The new 2022 UTV Rules can be found here. For a full event schedule, go here. To register for the event, go here. Registration is open until Jan. 2, 2022.
The return of the ARCA Menards Series West and the US Legends Cars Nationals will highlight an action-packed schedule at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2022.
The full schedule, which was released on Tuesday, also will include 10 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series events as well as the season-ending Open Comp. The season will get its first green flag on Saturday, Feb. 5 with the first NASCAR Weekly Racing Series event. The July 3 that will conclude with one of the valley’s top fireworks shows.
“(Bullring director) T.J. Clark and his staff did an incredible job getting the Bullring back up and running in 2021,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “There’s a lot of momentum to carry over into 2022, and we’re really excited about the schedule we have put together.”
In addition to the nine regular weekly events, the Bullring will host the Third Annual Star Nursery 150 for the ARCA Menards Series West on Friday, Oct. 14. That event will kick off the South Point 400 NASCAR Weekend and will include companion events that will close out the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series schedule.
Two special events will close out the 2022 schedule with the US Legends Cars Nationals Nov. 3-5 and the Open Comp season finale Dec. 2-3. For a complete 2022 Bullring schedule, please visit www.lvms.com.
Well, gang, we also said farewell to John Madden this week. He will be missed.