How Big Is The Las Vegas Speedway? [Answered!]

In the summer of 1968, a young man by the name of Gene Simmons started what would soon become a media empire. At the time, he was working as a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. While the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was still in its infancy, Simmons saw a business opportunity and decided to take advantage of it.

Before long, he was offering stock-car races at his new venue and even created the first-ever World Championship of Racing (now the World Series of Fighting). Along with co-founder Jim Beam, he established the World Series of Fighting, which would serve as both the promotion and the championship for the new speedway. The series was modeled after the popular NASCAR races that were a weekly part of the summer months at the time.

The series ran for 19 years before suspending operations in 1987. Since then, the World Series of Fighting has been inactive. But since 2014, a new chapter in the organization’s storied history has begun with the relaunch of the series under a new name, UFC, for Ultimate Fighting Championship, and a new era, an exciting time for fight fans in Nevada and around the world.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship

On November 12, 2003, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its television debut on Spike TV. The new MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) promotion was immediately hit with controversy. Why? Because the rules of the sport—at least as they were understood and practiced at the time—did not allow for the safe filming of a fight. This is especially significant because UFC events are often fought under high-pressure circumstances. This can make the athletes more aggressive, sometimes to the point of recklessness. And in a fight video, this can manifest itself in often gruesome ways.

It took multiple lawsuits, government intervention, and a lot of cajoling from the community to get rid of the archaic notion that fighting was meant to be filmed only in the dressing room/weight room/chambers of the athletes. Thanks to modern technology and the determination of fight film and television producers, these days it is possible to catch the excitement of a UFC fight from almost any angle. In other words, thanks to the efforts of people like Jimmy Prichard, who litigated the case for filming MMA fights and eventually won, the fight world—at least the UFC part of it—is now fully aware of how much its fans love to see the action unedited.

An Exciting Time For Fight Fans In Nevada And Around The World

Nevada, home to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the UFC, is a mecca for fight fans. Whether you love to watch elite athletes fight or you prefer to follow the action from the corner of a busy street, you will find something to engage you.

The state has always been in the forefront of combat sports, with many firsts to its credit. In 1909, the first official professional boxing match took place in Nevada. Two years later, the first-ever world heavyweight championship was determined in Reno. In 1931, the WBC (World Boxing Council) was founded in Nevada. And in October 2016, the UFC purchased a 91,000,000 square foot (8.7 million square meters) site in Las Vegas, which included the former Stardust Hotel and Casino, for the symbolic price of one dollar, effectively expanding into the city.

A Rich History In The Making

The story of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of determination, triumph, and resilience. As a young man, Simmons was not content with simply creating a business, he was driven to make his mark on the world stage. He sought out other entrepreneurs and put together a group of like-minded individuals to help him build the perfect racetrack. For years, they toiled in obscurity, working through the night to ensure the track met their high standards. Finally, in 1960, they turned a corner and the first race was held, with a crowd of 15,000 in attendance. That inaugural event was won by Jimmy Spencer, later to become known as Hot Rod and one of the greats of American motorsport, hailing from Indiana. Afterward, the track held several more races before suspending operations in 1968.

Simmons decided to continue building his business and in 1970 founded the International Speed Association, which would eventually become the IndyCar Series, an important racing series in the USA. In 2011, he established the Gene Simmons World Championship of Racing and the following year, the World Series of Fighting. These two organizations are the visible results of Simmons’ drive and quest for excellence. They are the reflection of his desire to continually create, grow, and improve.

Today, with a new generation of racers looking to make their names, the sands of time are running out on the once-grand Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The clock is ticking, the challenge is great, but the legacy left behind by Gene Simmons and his team of dreamers is undeniable. The question is, what will be the next great American racetrack?

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