Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Iowa Speedway 3333 Rusty Wallace Dr Newton, IA 50208
Year Opened: 2006 Capacity: 30,000
The Fastest Short Track on the Planet
Newton Speedway is a 7/8 mile oval track located in Newton, Iowa, about 30 miles east of Des Moines. Nicknamed “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet,” the speedway currently plays host to the Calypso Lemonade 150 (ARCA) and the biggest event on the calendar, the Hy-Vee IndyCar race weekend. The IndyCar weekend (held annually in July) consists of race days back to back along with some big-name concerts.
The track has changed ownership throughout the years, with NASCAR acquiring the site in 2013. At the time, there was talk of having a Cup race at the speedway, but that has yet to come to fruition.
The track has hosted numerous IndyCar races along with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and ARCA. The speedway has seen numerous big names on its track including Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Helio Castroneves.
Food & Beverage 3
Be sure to bring a card for all purchases. Iowa Speedway is cashless.
New in 2023, Hy-Vee (Midwest grocery chain) looks to have taken over the concessions. The menu is fairly limited but reasonably priced. Among the options are a pulled pork sandwich, pulled pork nachos, 1/3 slab of ribs, hot dogs, cheese curds, tater tots, chips, and ice cream.
Pepsi products are the soda of choice along with numerous choices of domestic beer and wine.
Entering the gates, there are different race/car-related displays and sales promotions. Concessions and restrooms are all under the seating area. As you enter the seating area, the entire track becomes visible. Grandstand seats are all bleacher seats, so you will be sitting on a bench. Padded seats and chairbacks are allowed to be brought in, provided there is no metal in them.
In the middle section of the seating area is the Newton Club. Newton Club tickets cost more than the grandstand, but the seats are chairbacks. Another perk of the Newton Club is there is an indoor area where you can sit and you can purchase drinks without missing any of the race. If it is a rainy day or particularly warm, this is the preferred option as you can get out of the rain or go inside and cool off in the air conditioning.
The recommended seats are from about halfway up the seating area to the top. If sitting in the first few rows, portions of turns 2 and 3 aren’t easily seen. As with almost all tracks, the seats face the pit road so its easy to see what is going on with the cars when they pit.
The only drawback of the speedway is there is no track store to purchase any speedway swag.
The track sits on the outskirts of Newton, Iowa. Newton is a small town (approx. 15,000) and, as such, there isn’t much to do outside of attending the race. Driving into town will yield some good results though. Giovannis Pizza stands out as the option here. The pizza is tremendous and if you want to try something different, they offer a “grinder” crust, which is essentially a fried pizza crust. Giovannis is about 3 miles from the track. Newton also has plenty of fast-food options if you just want to grab something for the road.
If staying for a long race weekend, there are a few lodging options, including the AmericInn and Cobblestone Inn and Suites, which are both within a mile of the speedway.
In the past few years, many races had been canceled at the track, largely due to Covid. Possibly for this reason, the turnouts are less than would be expected, although the attendance was far better in 2023 than in 2022. That being said, fans don’t just happen upon a race as one might a baseball game. The fans at the track are dedicated race fans and are into the race from green flag to finish. They have their favorite drivers and are engaged throughout the race.
Getting to the track takes a bit of time. Newton is about 30 minutes east of Des Moines and the track sits just south of Interstate 80. It’s easy to see from the highway and there is plenty of signage to direct you. Parking is ample and fairly close to the entrance gates. Once inside, there are plenty of concession areas and restrooms that are easily sufficient to allow you to quickly get back to your seats. This may be different with a full crowd. There is also plenty of handicapped seating available.
Return on Investment 4
Grandstand tickets begin at $19. Prices range up from there. We purchased Newton Club tickets for $55 and were pleased with the extra benefits of doing so. Kids 12 and under are free with the purchase of adult tickets in the grandstand. Parking is free. Combine reasonable ticket prices with free parking and typical concession prices, and the Iowa Speedway is a good deal.
One extra point goes to the staff. The ticket takers and concessions folks were all very friendly.
One of the perks of ARCA races is that the crowds are not super big. As such, it’s an easy effort to attend the pre-race autograph session and meet the drivers and get a signature. You are also free to wander down the track before the start of the race and look at the cars.
The Iowa Speedway is a bare-bones, but fun race experience. At this point, it’s up to NASCAR to determine whether they want the speedway to flourish by adding an Xfinity, Cup weekend to the schedule or remain on the fringes as a secondary track.