Speedway fans in Iowa can enjoy one of the country’s best racing tracks. However, you may wonder who owns it and what big events can you expect to see there in the near future?
Let’s take a look at the history of this race and what its future might hold.
All About Iowa Speedway
We need to go back to 2006 to find the opening of this racing track. It’s in Newton, some 30 miles to the east of Des Moines. The Soy Biodiesel 250 was the first race run here, followed by the likes of the Iowa Corn Indy 250, the NASCAR Xfinity races, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
It was built by the Manatt family, under the name of the U.S. Motorsports Corporation holding company, and was designed by NASCAR Champion Rusty Wallace. His design has given us a 7/8-mile oval racing track in a venue with seating in the grandstands for 25,000 spectators. It can be used all year round and was the first racing track to use state-of-the-art barrier technology around the whole track.
The Manatt family decided to sell Iowa Speedway after a few years, with the Clement family buying it through their Featherlite Incorporated company. This was an interesting move, as Featherlite was already a big part of the NASCAR ecosystem, providing coaches and trailers for the racing world. However, they didn’t last long, as the track was sold again in 2013.
This time, it was bought by NASCAR amid rumors of financial problems for the track. They moved quickly to try and get the venue upgraded, with a bill to raise $8 million for that reason raised in the Iowa Legislature. However, by 2020 there were rumors of major financial issues and it was regularly suggested that Roger Penske was looking to buy Iowa Speedway.
— Iowa Speedway (@iowaspeedway) June 10, 2022
What Races Have Taken Place Here Recently?
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 caused the cancellation of several races and the track was put up for sale that year. The major races were canceled in 2021, but it was suggested that 2022 would see them return to Iowa. For the moment, there are no signs of NASCAR bringing a race back here, but that doesn’t mean that it’s been lying empty all this time.
At the time of writing, NASCAR still owns Iowa Speedway, with Penske Entertainment and Hy-Vee hiring it to stage events. The recent NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader weekend at the venue was organized by Hy-Vee and turned out to be a huge success. Music, pop-up stores, and food trucks helped to generate a thrilling atmosphere that suggests that good times could be ahead.
Hy-Vee seems set to carry on putting money into Iowa events, as it looks to make this one of the premier IndyCar Series destinations. The big question is whether the NASCAR management team is prepared to put money into hosting NASCAR events here again. There’s growing support for bringing NASCAR races back to Iowa and the success of events like the IndyCar is sure to grow this even further.
Welcome back, race fans.
The gates at @iowaspeedway are OPEN for the @HyVee #INDYCAR Weekend. Up next: @IndyLights and @IndyCar practice.
What are you most looking forward to seeing this weekend? pic.twitter.com/reNtE80zjQ
— Hy-Vee INDYCAR Weekend (@INDYCARatIowa) July 22, 2022
Could NASCAR Return to Iowa?
The Iowa Speedway is in the unusual position of being owned by NASCAR but not hosting NASCAR races. Is this likely to change anytime soon? As we’ve seen, other races have been successful here recently and that has led to increased calls for NASCAR to come back to Iowa.
It’s undoubtedly one of the best racing tracks in the country, but the question is when they could bring a NASCAR race here. Then there’s the matter of which existing race in their calendar would get replaced by a new event in Iowa. So, we can see that there are some issues that would need to be overcome before this happens.
It seems unlikely that a new race in Iowa could be introduced in time for the 2023 season, but some sign that it will be back in the calendar beyond then would be warmly welcomed by the racing fans here. So what are the races elsewhere that could be cut from the season to make room for a return to Iowa? There’s no obvious candidate but there are some clues to what could happen.
For example, the venues with two dates on the NASCAR calendar could be seen as the best places to lose a race. This would mean looking at Iowa replacing the likes of Richmond, Kansas, or Phoenix. As well as freeing up a date for Iowa, this could also be a way of making the events at these racing tracks more attractive to spectators by limiting the availability over the year.
To sum up, the answer to the original question is that NASCAR still owns Iowa Speedway. Yet, they haven’t been holding races here and it isn’t clear what their plans are for this track.
Despite this, it remains a terrific sporting venue and we can expect to see many great races here in the future, regardless of whether they’re run by NASCAR or not.
The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule was recently released, and unfortunately it does not include a stop at Iowa Speedway. pic.twitter.com/jWKOQWVKfF
— Iowa Speedway (@iowaspeedway) October 30, 2020
Credits on Featured Images: roger blake on Flickr