Cowboys, rodeo princesses, bull riders, fans and angry animals are all arriving here for Thursday’s start to the 10 days of the annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It’s the last year in the UNLV facility because as of next year, the NFR will be hosted at the new Las Vegas Arena behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo at least through 2020.
En route to our desert kingdom, two bull-riding champions made a detour Monday to challenge each other to Corvette Stingray racing at the 360-acre Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump.
Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was on duty when four-time bareback-riding world champion Kaycee Feild got behind the wheel of a purple Corvette. 2014 bull-riding champion Sage Kimzey selected a red Corvette.
There are six 1.5-mile to 3.6-mile track circuits at the school established in 2008. It’s the longest track in North America with more than 6 miles of road course and some 50 configurations for drivers.
Ron, a multi-time driving champion and class winner in every major long-distance sports car race, is a charter member of Corvette Racing. It’s 0 to 60 in 3 seconds or less, with some Corvette models reaching as fast as 180 mph.
Said Tom after he clicked his cameras during their laps: “They had a great time the full afternoon getting loose before the 10 days of action at the NFR events.
“It’s all about adrenaline boosts and pushing the heart rate. For speed, agility and exhilaration. Just the right kind of a warm-up for the rodeo thrills, spills and chills.
“The cars may well be faster, of course, but the bulls are a lot rougher. Smooth on the track but wild and very bumpy in the arena.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.