For years, the lights above the Tucson Speedway would stay dark at night, since the track cracked in the harsh light of day. That all changed in 2012, when START Tucson LLC acquired the facility and set out to resurface the track, upgrade the lighting and PA systems, replace wood throughout the bleachers, and welcome racers and fans to the fabled oval. Today, stock engines roar past cheering fans as drivers speed around the 3/8-mile track, with the fastest drivers taking the checkered flag and last-place vehicles clawed by pursuing lions. The track hosts a wide range of car classes, including mini stocks that cram the horsepower of a full-size racecar into a smaller frame, and Hornet-class contests that showcase beginning racers facing off in Late Model rides.
The seasoned instructors at Belly Dance Tucson demystify the Middle Eastern art of speaking with the hips during a schedule of belly dancing classes for adults and children. Students en route to belly dancing mastery must first participate in eight weeks of the Introductory Technique course. Afterward, each successive class increases in difficulty and begins incorporating finger symbols, veils, and Rubik's cubes that participants must solve with their feet. The studio's kid-friendly classes teach bite-size belly dancers aged 5–10 in a fun, encouraging environment. Specialty workshops and private lessons allow pupils to fine-tune specific skills under the tutelage of a world-renowned dancer. Belly Dance Tucson's professional dancing troupe can also travel to special events and social gatherings to grace crowds with hypnotizing entertainment.
Over the last three decades, dance guru Kathryn Ferguson has dedicated her career to practicing and teaching the art of belly dancing. First exposed to the form in Casablanca, Morocco, Kathryn continues to put her own spin on belly dancing’s traditional hip shakes and tummy undulations, releasing a series of instructional video tapes and leading classes in her Tucson studio. These Egyptian- and Lebanese-style belly-dancing classes accommodate beginning and intermediate dancers looking to get in shape or shake up the annual family-reunion talent show. The studio's bright yellow walls create an upbeat environment, and full-length mirrors allow them to check for proper form and keep tabs on emerging six packs. In addition to teaching classes at Xanadu Dance Studio, Kathryn also helms the Xanadu Dancers Troupe, which performs regularly at dance- and music-focused events such as the Mediterranean Nights gala.
Over the years, the University of Arizona’s athletic teams have been linked together by one phrase: “bear down.” Now the official battle cry of the Wildcats, those were the dying words of an iconic student-athlete, John “Button” Salmon, who died in 1926 after a fatal car accident. Since then, the phrase has stood behind countless milestone moments, such as when Lute Olson, in 1983, became the 11th head coach of the Wildcats men’s basketball team, setting off a string of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances—including a national title in 1997. Several other national titles belong to Arizona outside of the hardwood, including four from the men’s baseball team and eight from the women’s softball program. Every fall inside Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats football team rouses up to 56,000 fans with hard-hitting Pac-12 showdowns, by far the most popular event on campus behind the linguistics department’s weekly phonetics bee.
The cultural traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have enlivened Tucson for more than a quarter century thanks to the Tucson Celtic Festival & Scottish Highland Games. Along with traditional music, dancing, and food, guests can also witness feats of athletic prowess during the internationally sanctioned Scottish Highland Games. The traditional event features activities such as a caber toss, which consists of participants lifting and throwing gargantuan wooden poles so that they land parallel to the thrower but not touching any of their vital organs, and Highland croquet, substituting the usual equipment with bowling balls and sledgehammers. If any questions as to the event’s authenticity remain, one need only look to the audience for confirmation: each year sees 30 to 40 Scottish clans come together to celebrate their heritage.
Armed with swift pitches, brawny line drives, and a division-topping season record, the Arizona Diamondbacks sprint toward their first National League West crown since 2007. Instead of catching the game by posing as the new bat-hoarding termite inspector, fans can watch the action from baseline-reserve seats along the left- and right-field foul lines. This season, right-handed hurler J.J. Putz baffled 9th-inning hitters while posting 51 strikeouts, 39 saves, and a mega-slim 2.44 ERA over 51.2 innings pitched. After 148 games, right fielder Justin Upton marches toward his 600th career hit while lugging 86 RBIs, a .296 batting average, and a tuba signed by John Philip Sousa.