Lonnie Hammargren Says This Is It!

Lonnie opens his house
We all knew this day would come, we just weren’t sure when it would. And now that day is here. Vietnam flight surgeon, retired neurosurgeon, former lieutenant governor and Vegas mega pack-rat, Lonnie Hammargren gave in to his whiny neighbors. Lonnie promised that October 31st would be his last Nevada Day Open House

Lonnie has opened his home(s) to the public every year to celebrate Nevada Day – October 31… the day Nevada became a state. Yes, Halloween is considered a state holiday!

So consider this your warning: For anyone who has a fixation on Las Vegas, this may be the last time for you to take a very unique trip down Vegas history. A trip down memory lane with the man who lived it or knew the people who did it!

To refresh your memory, this is the man who in 2007 held a funeral for himself after his bypass surgery, because he wanted to hear what everyone would say about him after he died. The funeral was complete with a Mardi Gras jazz band that marched the funeral precession to his house for a “wake” and celebration that made world news.

  • His second floor observatory was subpoenaed in a divorce case
  • Yes, that is the roller coaster from the Stratosphere in the backyard
  • if its Vegas history and not in a museum, chances are you will find it here!

On a personal note, Lonnie Hammargren was the very first person we ever interviewed for The Vegas Tourist. And still the most memorable interview. For us it was supposed to be a quick fifteen-minute interview, which turned into an hour-long interview. After which we followed Lonnie on a personal tour through a forty-year collection of memorabilia. Most of it Vegas focused, touch of other fascinating stuff he collected from his trips around the world.

If it isn’t in a local museum, you may want to look for it over at Lonnie’s place. Or on second thought, check Lonnie’s place first. Parts of the stratosphere roller coaster? Check. Dunes welcome sign? Yup, it’s here. Shuttle mock up? It’s here. Liberace’s staircase? You just walked up it.  Walk it up to the observatory. The “crapper” from the Howard Hughes suite at the Frontier? Got it.

Actually it’s a three home residence complex called “Casa Del Sol,” connected by his always-growing eclectic collection of Vegas centered and world renowned items aka or junk!

So What’s the Problem?
The politically connect neighbors. Most have moved in to the neighborhood after he started his collection and now complain that he is a nuisance to the neighborhood and they want it stopped. They want “their” quiet neighborhood to be left alone from all the gawkers and the embarrassment of saying they live next door to the Vegas  pack rat!

This obviously is not a view shared by many people outside of his neighborhood. Ask most people about it and the common answer is “Move!”

A logical answer I must agree with.

Here is Our Interview with Lonnie Hamargren in 2006: Enjoy!

Barrett Jackson Collector Car Auction in Las Vegas

Some people call it the third annual Barrett Jackson Collector Car Auction in Las Vegas while some of us just call it what it is….  Car P*rn!!

To browse the lanes filled with some of the finest examples of automotive beauty ever created took a lot of restraint.  To know all these beautiful things of metal are there for the taking. Not really there for the taking…. You do need a bank letter of credit or a nice bank account in order to bid.

If not bidding, you could at least look, ogle and drool.  And there was plenty of that in the display area. Everything from almost every era of cars, trucks and specialty were sold over three days, all to the highest bidder.  No reserve, nothing was held back.

As an example, I was on the auction block when this sample Detroit’s best came across the block.  A 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Boss.  Delicious!!  And it went for a princely sum of $70,000…

It never fails;  Take me out somewhere and I will find the people from Minnesota.  Here I found a couple from the frozen tundra of Minnesota who were trying to figure out where they will be putting this 1963 Thunderbird Convertible when they get it back home.  They invited me to stop by when I am back home for a test drive to corner Dairy Queen…

The Barrett-Jackson collector car auction is not just for muscle cars or sports cars, there is something for just about everyone.  With cars selling for under $5,000 to over $100,000.

Here we have a nice 1966 Ford Bronco.  From that era before fancy SUV’s or “utility” vehicles with designer name plates and cushy insides.  Nope, this is when they made trucks to work hard, last long and go off roads.  Not just to the nearest Starbucks!

Three days just isn’t enough…. There was just so much to drool over.  I am sure they had mopping crews operating overtime…   Now I have to wait until next year.

Check out the auction results:  Barrett Jackson

Binion, Ivey, WSOP History

Sazzy and I spent some time Thursday at the World Series of Poker and was able to catch a little piece of history. The Godfather of WSOP, Jack Binion awarding Phil Ivey his eighth gold bracelet.  Not bad for a 33-year-old poker pro.

It’s one thing to win a gold bracelet, its another to have it presented to you by the man who made WSOP what it is.  Jack Binion and his father are the men credited for creating the championship game and making it the premier event in the world of poker back in 1970.

It was kind of strange to see Jack up there with Phil.  Two men from two different era’s of the same game. One is the man who created it and protected it as it grew.  Only to have his sister screw it all up and literally give away to some big, impersonal corporation.  The other is a man who is barely in his prime and who has spent most of his WSOP career with it in the new owners’ hands.

Jack is not one for fancy pomp and circumstances.  the presentation was over and he immediately left the stage and headed for the exit.  However, I did catch him on his way out and saw that Binion magic at play.  He walked out of the main corridor, stopping to say hello to anyone who asked.  He also made a point to stop and say hello to all the vendors along the way.  The people who are helping to make this an enjoyable event for the fans and players.  That’s the magic that is missing in the game.  That personal touch that the Binions were famous for.

Phil Ivey was the winner of the $3,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship on Wednesday.  From the sounds of it, this was a dramatic win for Ivey and marks his eighth career WSOP gold bracelet victory.  That locks Ivey into a tie with Erik Seidel for fifth place on the all-time WSOP wins list.

Phil Ivey also becomes the youngest player in WSOP history ever to reach such a lofty plateau.  This puts him on the same page as the game masters Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and the late Johnny Moss.  A nice place to be sitting.

Listening to him,  Phil Ivey shows absolutely no signs of slowing down and remains hungry to win a few more.  And that begged a question from the media.  if you can make more money player cash games, why are you here at WSOP?  His answer was one of pride and honor.  To him, the WSOP has made him what he is. He wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the years he played in the WSOP and the skill she learned in the tournaments.

It is where he got the fame, the money and the sharp skills.  So he plays it because this is here he belongs right now.  As always, its not about the money, its about the honor of saying “I won a gold bracelet.”

I can see Phil back at the final table.  One of the November Nine….

Historic Route 66 Fun Run

Last weekend at about 0 dark hundred hours, Sazzy and myself hit the road for a little adventure.  Our destination was Seligman Arizona.  Home to the founder of Historic Route 66 Association (Angel Delgadllio)  and the starting point of the 23rd annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run.

Angel and a few other businesses on the old highway banded together to form the Association.  To commemorate the occasion, they held a little car run in 1987.  That first year attracted about 115 to go from Seligman to the California border.  Afterward, they asked when the next one was??  Just like the Associations, the fun run grew from there  This year, over 600 cars from all over the world showed up.

Yes, that is me standing next to a 48 Ford.  One that you can literally say was “chopped”.   There is a full grown man sitting in the drivers seat talking to another man next to me.  It is street legal.

A walk down main street Seligman, you saw just about every make and model represented.  From a 36′ Dodge Brothers Coupe up to a modern day Cadillac.  Customs, classics, hot rods and coupes.  Weird trucks and trailers to personal pet projects. We also met some wonderful people from all over the world who come to this event every year!

Once Angel started the run, they headed down the old highway in search of glory and their waiting fans who were perched along the route to cheer them on.  We caught up with them Hackberry.  After a little stop for food, fun and photos, they were off  to Kingman and Oatman before ending on Sunday in Topock Arizona.  Right on the California border

If you love cars, have a nostalgia for the old highways and byways of America, want to meet others who have the same feelings;  Or just want to photograph some really awesome pieces of chrome…. This is the event for you!!

Nevada Southern Railway Photo Day

Some people of a certain age were raised on railroads.  I was fortunate enough to have experienced them towards the end of the era and have fond memories of riding the Milwaukee Road or Burlington Northern passenger trains to visit the relatives.  When an opportunity to relive those memories comes around, I grab it.

So this past weekend, Sazzy, myself and about 100 other Las Vegas photographers headed off to Boulder City to shoot some trains.  Boulder City is that lovely little town just outside Las Vegas that was built during the Great Depression to house the workers for the Hoover Dam / Boulder Dam Project.

It’s home to The Nevada Southern Railway.  Part of the Nevada Railroad Museum.  This short rail line and collection of antique passenger cars, steam/diesel locomotives, as well as other vintage train items, sits on what was part of the original Union Pacific line that ran from Las Vegas to Boulder City, with two other lines that served the Dam and the building of the dam.

Saturday was “photographers’ day”.  They invited anyone with a passion for photography out to ride the rails, see the sites and snap a few hundred pictures.  Hoping that some of us would get an amazing shot that they would use in their 2011 calendar.  The day was picture perfect, to steal a much-used phrase.

On one run, they even stopped at a crossing, allowed us camera freaks out, then did a slow drive-by so we could get some up close and personal shots of a moving locomotive and it’s passenger cars.

We could only imagine what the engineer must have been thinking as he slowly passed by people in every conceivable position, posed alongside the tracks holding cameras!  Photographers will do the darndest things to get “the picture.”

Even if you are not there for the photography, riding the train is a great way to spend a beautiful morning or afternoon.  The experience is relaxing, the views awesome and the people you meet are wonderful.

The train runs weekends and leaves the Boulder City Station at 10:00am / 11:30am / 1:00pm / 2:30pm

On that trip, you can walk from car to car, sitting where you please.  The open-air cars are the most popular with photographers and families. The original enclosed Pullman cars have comfortable seats with large windows that provide views of the desert and mountains as you travel alongside busy U.S. 93.

The cool part is the volunteer crew.  These guys are great resources of information and fun to talk with.  You can ask these guys anything.  Not that you need to ask because they love to talk and to narrate as we slowly go along the 4-mile trail.

And talk they do…. These guys know a lot about the trains, the cars, and the history of them, the city and the station.  Plus the vegetation, wildlife, and mountains you are watching go by.

Dressed in vintage uniforms, they look like they stepped out of central casting or an old train movie.  Complete with the chains, pocket watches, and the familiar call to action “All Aboard!”.

For those of us raised on trains, this brings back a lot of memories.  For those who never lived the experience, it’s an amazing trip back in time while relaxing as the train travels down the track.

If you are looking for a reason to get out of Las Vegas and do something fun and different, this would be it.  You can’t beat the adventure or the price.  (Adults $10)

Check Out Nevada Southern Railway

Take a Hoover Dam Tour