Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NHRA Tales From the Las Vegas Sports Book

by Micah Roberts

The NHRA roars into Las Vegas this weekend for the second time this season. Beyond the ultra-modern facility and the neon lights of the city, the one thing that makes a Las Vegas race stand out above all other races on the tour is that there is legal wagering on the top pro classes -- Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.

That’s where I come into play. My name is Micah Roberts and I posted the odds on all the Las Vegas events from the inaugural race in 2000 through 2008. Before the Strip was built, I had never been to an NHRA event and had only sparingly watched the drags on television, but I was the guy in Las Vegas who did all the auto racing odds, so it was a natural for me lump the NHRA in with NASCAR, Indy Racing, and Champ Cars. I talked with a lot people who understood the sport thoroughly, used some past results as a reference, and voila, now we had odds and began taking bets.

It took just one day of qualifying on that inaugural weekend for me to figure out that NHRA was nothing like NASCAR, where qualifying doesn’t mean as much as the final practices. It was a learning process and when bets came in, we moved the odds up or down on drivers based on overall risk for each. If we didn’t have much money on a particular driver, we’d bump him up a little bit and if a driver had lots of action, we’d drop him a notch.

To gain knowledge and get involved I walked around the pits and talked with the drivers and told them who I was and what I did. I also was writing for a local weekly newspaper covering motorsports and was able to kill two birds with one stone.

Every one of the drivers I talked with were intrigued by the odds. They had never seen it done before and many commented how the odds legitimized drag racing with other big league sports, something I had never even thought about.

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