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Las Vegas Raiders ambulance lives in the fast lane

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February 10, 2021 By John Katsilometes

You want that Denver Broncos quarterback to go?

He’s gone!

The supine image laying in the back, in a No. 4 Broncos jersey, tells some of the story of the Las Vegas Raiders Ambulance, the ultimate fan vehicle. The rig is parked inside the Diversion Amusements entertainment complex on 5321 Commerce Street.

The ambulance is old, and so is the building. But both have been renovated in a most effective, Vegas-styled manner. The sirens work (on the ambulance), and so do the lasers (on the stage).

Brad Burdsall owns the venue, and the old ambulance, a 1972 Chevy Suburban. This is not your typical ambulance, at least not today. But it was a contemporary medical technology in its heyday, until the federal government enacted regulatory restrictions on ambulances across the country. Apparently, the idea was they should not look so much like a hearse.

The ‘72 was among the last Suburbans made specifically for medical emergency transportation. These days, it carries a fully outfitted mannequin opposing quarterback for the Raiders’ upcoming opponent (at the moment Brett Rypien of the Broncos, the Raiders’ final 2020 opponent, is the honored patient).

The dummy even has a play sheet wrapped around his left forearm, and an IV hooked to his right.

“With the Raiders coming to town, I just wanted to have the ultimate fan vehicle, something to talk about, and we think we have it,” said Burdsall, who also owns Egg & I on West Sahara Avenue and six Egg Works restaurants across the valley. “My hope is the city, the team and (owner) Mark Davis get behind the car.”

But not in front of it.

Burdsall has spared no detail, with the lights and sounds of the car, and by buying helmets and jerseys of every team in the NFL.

“Oh, that’s been fun,” says Burdsall, who grew up in Cincinnati as a Bengals fan. “They are all hanging in my office”

It’s been a long road for this Chevy to adopt the Raiders identity. It spent some time as the track ambulance at the old Craig Road Speedway. For many years, the ambulance was used in its original condition in film and live-entertainment purposes. It’s in the feature film “Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas,” and for 20 years was the signature vehicle prop for the stage show “Marriage Can Be Murder,” owned by co-stars Eric Post and Jayne Ann Savoie Post.

The car was integral to the show at the Egg & I.

“It was my go-to joke in every show, ‘I could use an ambulance right now!’ and it would pull up, lights on, siren going,” Savoie Post says. “Big laughs.”

For seven years, the show played the Egg & I, hauling away the victim in every show. When the show moved to the D Las Vegas, the car was parked outside Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street. Show producer John Bentham ran it up and down the Strip for a few months.

“It was like an ambulance and a mobile billboard,” says Bentham, whose show plays Diversion Amusements for single shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and two at noon and 7 p.m. Valentines Day.

The Posts finally put the ambulance up for sale in 2017, and Burdsall bought it for $15,000. But that was just to fire up this project. He spent more than $100,000 in a frame-off restoration by Nostalgia Hot Rods of Las Vegas. He hired world-renowned, air-brush artist Craig Fraser to perform a wildly inventive paint scheme — Raiders-like, but not using the team’s official logo, steering clear of licensing concerns. The paint itself was about $5,000.

And the beast is powered by a Chevy 302 V8. No fuel injectors here.

Ultimately, the Raiders Ambulance would be the centerpiece of the team’s watch parties from the Diversion Amusements facility, which Burdsall is revving up as a leading entertainment complex. It’s a haven for Vegas Golden Knights watch parties with eight-course dinners prepared on-site.

Eventually, Burdsall wants bands, comedy, such shows as “Marriage” to be able to play the space. As it is, the place is lined with vintage pinball machines (which are making a serious comeback in COVID) and SuperChexx manual NHL games.

“I originally wanted to drive this to Allegiant Stadium and set up folding chairs, let people take photos next to it,” Burdsall said. “We think it fits the team perfectly.”

Just ask the QB. When he comes to, of course.


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