In the fall of 1996, Las Vegas rolled the dice on a new state-of-the-art auto racing facility on the northern outskirts of town. The founders were gambling that enough car-racing fans would trek into the desert to make their $72 million venture pay off. Twenty years later, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of the nation's most successful motor sports facilities, as well as a popular venue for concerts and other sporting events.
An IndyCar race won by Richie Hearn was the very first event staged that autumn. NASCAR's Sprint Cup series arrived two years later, the National Hot Rod Assn. arrived in 2000, and both have been motor-sports stalwarts at the track ever since. From Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson to Tony Stewart and hometown hero Kyle Busch, many of racing's biggest names have taken the checkered flag at the banked 1.5-mile oval.
Although the track can seat nearly 120,000 for motor-sports events, its biggest draw is the Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day electronic music festival that attracts around 350,000 people each year. Las Vegas Motor Speedway also hosts a round of the global Red Bull Air Races, during which small, highly maneuverable, ultra-fast airplanes speed around giant pylons on an aerial racetrack.