By Robin Opsahl
The Iowa Speedway in Newton will host a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2024, Gov. Kim Reynolds and NASCAR officials announced Tuesday.
Reynolds was joined by NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Rusty Wallace, who designed the Iowa Speedway, current Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski and officials with the auto racing company outside the State Capitol in Des Moines for the announcement.
Speaking beside a NASCAR vehicle and Cup Series trophy, the governor said she was excited to see NASCAR return to Iowa, saying that Iowa is ready to be a motorsports destination in 2024.
"Like when Iowa first hosted Major League Baseball for the Field of Dreams game in 2021, from that first pitch to the game-winning home run deep into the cornfield in the ninth inning against a picture perfect sunset, Iowa delivered," Reynolds said. "And now we can't wait to deliver again as we welcome NASCAR back to the Iowa Speedway."
The Iowa Speedway, purchased by NASCAR in 2013, previously hosted Xfinity and Truck series races, but has not held events with the company since 2019. But Wallace said when he met with NASCAR CEO Jim France during an ARCA race at the Speedway a few years ago, France showed interest in bringing a Cup Series race to the Iowa facility.
The announcement marks the payoff for years of work and advocating by many Iowans and supporters, Wallace said. "Today's our day, we finally got it."
"I just can't thank everybody enough," Wallace said. "This is a dream come true for me as a track designer to finally get a Cup Race here in Iowa. And there's one thing I do know, we've seen enough racing here at Iowa to know it's going to put on one heck of a Cup Race. There's no doubt about that."
The race will be sponsored by Iowa Corn Growers Association. Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, said Iowa corn farmers were happy to play a role in bringing NASCAR events to the state, and continuing work on ethanol use in motor racing. The groups worked with the company previously in developing Sunoco Green E15, official NASCAR fuel that contains ethanol, he said, and are excited to "showcase the power and performance" of ethanol fuels.
"For us, this sponsorship is not only about bringing exciting events to Iowa, but also a great opportunity to share the Iowa corn farmers ability to meet the growing needs of consumers for sustainable food and fuel in our state," Floss said.
Iowa state lawmakers also celebrated the event, with Rep. Jon Dunwell, R-Newton, saying the race is expected to bring more than $100 million to the local area.
"What really makes me excited as not only a citizen in Iowa, but also the representative, is the partnership - watching our governor, watching the state Legislature, watching businesses, watching sponsors come together to make a difference in our communities," he said. "As we can come up with problems that go across our country, in our world, that's the kind of partnership we need."
Iowa Democrats also said they were excited for the Iowa Speedway to host the event.
"Top-tier NASCAR in Newton is a huge win for race fans, for motorsports, and most of all for the state of Iowa," Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo said in a statement. "Democrats and Republicans have been working for more than a decade to bring NASCAR's best cars and drivers to the fastest short track on the planet right here in Iowa, and today that dedication is paying off."
The Cup race - name and logo yet to be announced - is set for 6 p.m. central time on June 16, 2024, with a NASCAR Xfinity Series race and an ARCA Menards Series race also scheduled for the same weekend. More information and tickets will be available at a later date. Company officials encouraged those interested in attending to visit iowaspeedway.com, where fans can make a $25 deposit to purchase tickets before the sale goes public.