When you think about it, 1998 isn’t really that long ago, just 17 years.
But when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolled into Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first time 1998, it was something totally new. NASCAR typically didn’t frequent places populated by gamblers, showgirls, singers and cowboys, so this trip really was special.
The inaugural Las Vegas 400 featured a starting command from boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer, and race winner Mark Martin was greeted in Victory Lane by none other than Vegas legend Wayne Newton and bevy of beautiful showgirls.
It was a strange moment given that Martin is the least Las Vegas guy you’d ever seen — he maintained a strict diet-and-exercise regimen, got up at the crack of dawn or maybe earlier and was a model of clean living. He was definitely not a denizen of Sin City.
But what’s really amazing about that first race? The top five finishers were Martin, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Jeff Burton, Rusty Wallace, Johnny Benson and Jeremy Mayfield.
Sensing a trend yet?
OK, how about this: Finishers 6-10 were Jimmy Spencer, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Chad Little and Rick Mast.
Got it yet?
Well, here you go: Not a single one of the top 16 finishers in the inaugural Las Vegas 400 is still racing full time in NASCAR today.
In fact, the only driver in that race who is still competing full time in the Sprint Cup Series is Jeff Gordon, who finished 17th in the first Vegas race.