Did you ever see the film Casino, starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and the ageless Don Rickles? It’s a fact-based tale about how Mafia money and muscle came to dominate absolutely everything in Las Vegas until the corporations and investment bankers took over. Here’s a book that explores many of the same themes, albeit with a twist: It involves the history of big-time auto racing in Las Vegas. Stardust International Raceway is a scholarly 404-page tome with the subtitle Motorsports Meets the Mob in Vegas, 1965-1971. It’s even written by a couple of Glitter Gulch denizens with extensive knowledge of their subject matter.
Stardust was a nicely groomed road course that ran when postwar American racing was on a rocket ride, hosting the great Can-Am Series and USAC Indy cars. Pro-level drag racing was a big part of the mix at Stardust, too. This book, one of McFarland Publishing’s brilliant automotive and motorsports histories, takes the reader all the way back to when organizing racing – legal and otherwise – first began around Las Vegas, along the Boulder Highway and at other locales. But the racing shares equal billing with the individuals behind it. The chief executive behind the Stardust racing venture was Moe Dalitz, the Midwest mob financial kingpin. The fabled mob lawyer and fixer, Sidney Korshak, plays a major role in this story. So do Howard Hughes and Jimmy Hoffa. The mob angle isn’t played for laughs; it’s treated as an integral part of Stardust and Las Vegas history. Which it was. This excellent book retails for $49.95; you can get it at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, the nation’s oldest store specializing in car and aviation subjects. Visit http://www.autobooks-aerobooks.com or call 1-818-845-0707.