Getting up at 3:30 a.m. is not what I call fun, but thinking of flying to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Champions Week offset some of the pain. I actually should have got my butt out of bed earlier. I arrived at the airport in Omaha, checked a bag at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter, road the escalator to the second level of the terminal and found I was in a L-O-N-G line waiting to go through the security check. And I mean a very long line. Hey, it takes time to remove shoes, belts, coats, and empty your pockets. While I was standing, barely moving, everyone with a “TSA Pre-check” strolled past, no waiting line, walked through security and headed to their gate. Next time I fly I will have that clearance.
I am not sure why Southwest wants to penalize Omaha flyers, but it seems like every time I fly S.W. to Las Vegas the arrival gate is always the furthest from the terminal, in this case, gate B12. My left knee was already complaining before I left McCarran International.
Because the Sports Business Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum brought a lot of people to the Aria Hotel, participants got a room discount. I found that using the discount allowed me to get a Corner Suite for less than most people paid for a regular room. The Corner Suite was like the lodging State of Nebraska employees expect when they travel for audits at taxpayer expense. A living room with a big screen TV. A bedroom with a big screen TV. And a bathroom with a smaller H.D. TV above the tub. Oh, the toilet seat was also heated, which was weird.
The only thing bad about the suite was it was 250 steps from the elevator. The convention center rooms where the forum was held were 900 steps from my room. Going anywhere was a long way, but with no expense account like a lot of the people at the event, there was no room service for me either. So, hundreds of steps again and again and again. Yeah, I know, whine, whine, and whine some more.
I really didn’t know how to handle all the luxury of the suite. Normally where I stay I have to share a shower with six other people, and not only is the toilet not heated, it is usually a Porta-Potty behind the hotel. I hoped to find a McDonald’s close by so I didn’t have to spend more on a meal than a family of four in Nebraska does, but the closest one was almost a mile away. Fortunately the conference provided three meals and snacks, so I did not have to starve or go broke buying a hamburger ($18 for a “classic” with fries).
A stand-up luncheon kicked off the conference. Good food and among others I met a gentleman from PRI and another one who represented Lucas Oil and MAV TV. When people found out I was from Nebraska, the first words out of their mouth were “why was Pelini fired?” That isn’t a lie, I was asked that several times.
I enjoyed the afternoon session of the conference, with the opening segment being an interview of NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick. In years past I was not a great Harvick fan, but I have changed my opinion of the driver since the birth of his son. Unlike some drivers, Harvick’s interaction with his son is real, not just a photo-op. Harvick is going to be a great spokesperson for racing as the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion. Harvick talked more than racing as he also has a business that manages MMA fighters, PGA golfers, and country music artists.
After Harvick, Brent Dewar the Chief Operating Officer of NASCAR gave a rundown on the 2014 Sprint Cup season. Since this was a “marketing” forum, the next speaker talked about the attitudes and actions of Gens Y and Z. I was listening closely until she started talking about 3 year olds operating tablets. My grandson Henry certainly does, and the reason I lost interest in this presentation was that I had struggled and ultimately failed taking photos of Harvick with my newly acquired tablet. It is quite humbling that 3 year olds can do things I can’t quite manage.
After a refreshment break-until then I had never seen 8.5 ounce aluminum cans of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke shaped like bottles-we listened to representatives from Comcast (their Xfinity division is the new title sponsor of NASCAR’s former Nationwide Series), MAVTV, and Continental Tire. Most of this went over my head, and yes, I do know that should be no surprise.
The two people who headed up the team that produced the Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max commercial spoke next. The commercial was shown and they talked about all that went into making the commercial and how it had to be a one shot success or it was a bust.
The last two sessions of the day were “The Penske Approach to B2B and How Their Partners are Driving ROI from it,” and an interview with none other than Brad Keselowski. Not being a Penske fan at all, and since Keselowski refuses to confess his Texas race sins, I decided to call it a day and head back to my room. I was not the only one leaving.
Something I found interesting was a number of times I felt I had previously heard comments made by many of the speakers. Walking back to my room-all 900 steps-I realized that another Fremont residence, one who lives on the west edge of the city, had told me such things many times. Maybe Matt is more of a professional thinker than some promoters and their spouses care to admit.
On a scale of 1-10 I would give the day’s activities an 8, and I had two more NASCAR Champions Week days left. I went to bed early-remember I am the most boring of the 37,000,000 people who visit Las Vegas each year, plus I had been up since 3:30 a.m.
Thanks for stopping by.