What about a NASCAR Cup Series in Iowa?
That is a question Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt is sure almost everybody asks him at some point. But it’s his favorite question.
As it always has been, Hyatt’s answer is: “We honestly and truly believe that it’s our best opportunity in the history of the racetrack when 2021 rolls around.”
At a recent Newton City Council meeting, Hyatt led a presentation informing council members of upcoming events and giving a status update of the Iowa Speedway racetrack. The one-year president of Iowa Speedway soon veered off course and addressed that one question he always seems to get asked, as well as the changing business model of the auto racing operating company.
Folks who ask Hyatt likely know all National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing series agreements, including the prized Cup Series, expire by next year. Some may have even read the news reports about NASCAR’s interests in changing its title sponsorship methods and rejecting current title sponsor Monster Energy’s extension for another year.
“They’re looking at a better way to roll out sponsorship and not actually sell the series to a single brand as it has been over the last three decades or four decades,” Hyatt said. “At the end of the day, we feel very confident that we got an opportunity better than we’ve ever had.”
Indeed, NASCAR officials have talked openly about revamping schedules. Things are changing, and people want to know if Newton’s own racetrack — aptly described as the “fastest short track on the planet” — has a shot of hosting racing’s most prestigious series event. Judging by his exuberance, Hyatt is optimistic it could happen for the town of more than 15,000 people.
“We all hear all very positive things that go on around here and around our sport about this track. Drivers are very, very positive about racing here,” Hyatt said, noting the Iowa Speedway stands out as the only racetrack owned by NASCAR. According to Iowa Speedway’s website, it is also the only track to be designed by a former race car driver: NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
Still clearing the final hurdles of purchasing International Speedway Corporation, which Hyatt said is already a sister company, NASCAR is expected to have about a dozen sister racetracks under its banner. Hyatt said this “can only be good” for Iowa Speedway.
“Because those 12 tracks make up, currently, 21 of the cup races that are currently on the schedule,” Hyatt said. “So it gives us an opportunity, as a private company, to work together about scheduling dates.”
Whether the outcome is positive or negative, Hyatt added, the Newton City Council and the public will know when they find out for sure if a NASCAR Cup Series will be hosted at Iowa Speedway. If it works out in Newton’s favor, the former president and executive producer of The Motor Racing Network suggested there will be cause for celebration.
“All the people keep saying all the right things,” he told the Newton City Council. “We want you in our court as we go in and try to make this happen. And certainly — knocking on wood — that (if) it does, that we will all be able to shout it from the rooftops and make a really big deal out of it.”
Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said the city appreciates its partnership with Iowa Speedway over the years.
“It’s a fantastic venue out there,” he said. “Part of the tourism triangle we like to talk about. We’re certainly grateful that facility is there.”
Craig Armstrong, economic development specialist for the City of Newton, said a NASCAR Cup Series at Iowa Speedway could have a substantial affect in Newton and the surrounding areas. Assuming Newton was able to secure the premier race, Armstrong said the series typically has an economic impact of about $50 million simply by attracting greater numbers.
“They will be here and they will be staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, purchasing equipment, purchasing services — the list is almost endless,” Armstrong said. “It’s fairly vast and that’s why that economic impact is so much greater than any other series that could come to Iowa Speedway. That would be huge for us. No question.”
As the former vice president and general manager at Iowa Speedway, Armstrong said he worked diligently to prove to NASCAR that Newton could, in fact, handle larger series. He said the racetrack did just that by taking on what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“It was a big deal,” Armstrong said. “With the success of the Xfinity Series here and the now Gander Outdoors Truck Series and over the years with the IndyCar Series, we’ve proven we can handle big events at Iowa Speedway and that the community gets behind it and that there is plenty of infrastructure and services available for that.”
Hyatt certainly thinks so, too.
“We are proud to be apart of this city,” Hyatt said. “We think we’ve got the greatest racetrack on the planet in the greatest place in the country.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org