At House of Cues' NASCAR Sundays, the bartenders move like they're part of a pit crew. Now that football season is over, the racing league is moving its sport into the mainstream at 200-plus miles per hour -- partly due to its new, more dramatic Nextel Cup format (which includes a two-part season, playoffs, and mounting points). At Cues, the crowd is made up of suburban couples, hardcore fans, and hung-over yuppies. Weekly drawings and specials maximize the active entertainment, but it's the bar's fantasy-racing league that draws the big boys. "It's a little easier to follow than football or baseball leagues," says general manager Ken Ross. "You don't need to know the drivers, their history, or the tracks. This time last year, I didn't know anything about racing. You learn fast." Doors open at noon; the green flag drops for the Food City 500 at 12:30 p.m. at House of Cues (740 West Superior Avenue). Admission is free. Call 216-2411-8200 for more information. -- D.X. Ferris
Outdoors, Outplay, Outhouse
By day, Gretchen Motts tackles the trails as a Cleveland Metroparks naturalist. But one night each year, she gives her best Jeff Probst impersonation as host of Survival Adventure: Heading West. The contest is set in 1805, with teams pretending they're moving from Connecticut to Ohio's Western Reserve. On the way, they face physical challenges, such as jumping over streams, reading maps by candlelight, and pushing wheelbarrows loaded with firewood. "It's really hard for us to imagine what their life was like, much less packing up everything they own and putting it in a wagon and traveling 400 miles," says Motts. Alas, there are no prizes for subjecting yourself to this kind of agony. The objective is merely to appreciate modern-day luxuries. "We're so used to running out to Marc's and getting anything we need," says Motts. "Survival is the real prize." It happens from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rocky River Nature Center, 24000 Valley Parkway in North Olmsted. Admission is free, but registration is required; call 440-734-6660. -- Cris Glaser
When Sue Bushi isn't playing the mild-mannered president of Gold Coast Darters, she's the force behind the Midwest's best dart players at the Top Dawg Open, a three-day shootout with an $8,170 payout. "I'm not saying you should quit your day job," says the National Darts Hall of Fame inductee, a former golfer. "But I made more money at darts than I did at golf." Game time is 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Marriott Airport Hotel's Main Ballroom, 4277 West 150th Street. Entry fee is $15, it's free to watch; call 216-476-0852. -- Cris Glaser
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