Professional motorsports came to Las Vegas in the mid–1950s at a bankrupt horse track swarmed by gamblers—and soon became enmeshed with the government and organized crime. By 1965, the Vegas racing game moved from makeshift facilities to Stardust International Raceway, constructed with real grandstands, sanitary facilities and air-conditioned timing towers. Stardust would host the biggest racing names of the era—Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, John Surtees, Mark Donohue, Bobby Unser, Dan Gurney and Don Garlits among them. Established by a notorious racketeer, the track stood at the confluence of shadowy elements—wiretaps, casino skimming, Howard Hughes, and the beginnings of Watergate. The author traces the Stardust’s colorful history through the auto racing monthlies, national newspapers, extensive interviews and the files of the FBI.
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