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  • James Hilchen

Iowa Speedway – NASCAR


Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

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. 2024 was a massive year for the track, with the debut of the first ever NASCAR Cup race in Iowa. The three-day series of races (both ARCA and Xfinity led up to the Cup race), saw massive attendance with two sellouts and a big crowd for ARCA.


The track has changed ownership throughout the years, with NASCAR acquiring the site in 2013. Prior to 2024, the track has hosted numerous IndyCar races along with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and ARCA, but was never able to land the elusive Cup race.


Food & Beverage 4

Iowa Speedway is cashless, so plan accordingly.


There are 3 permanent concession areas that serve your typical fare for sports venues. In anticipation of the large crowds, plenty of temporary food vendors were brought in that allowed for much more variety than in the past. Whether your preference is pizza, Mexican, BBQ, Asian, etc, it is available. In addition, plenty of snacks like kettle corn, ice cream, etc. are available.


One negative of the weekend that I have not encountered at other tracks is that no outside food or drink was allowed. Fans are allowed to bring two sealed bottles of water per person, but nothing else.


Pepsi products are the soda of choice along with numerous choices of domestic beer, wine, and mixed drinks.


Food and drink prices are about what you would expect for a NASCAR race.


Atmosphere 5

Just outside the entry gates were all the driver/team merchandise trucks. Entering the gates, there are different race/car related displays and sales promotions. The NASCAR experience area was a fun place to stop. Among the items to see were the actual car that Richard Petty drove when he won the infamous 1979 Daytona 500. There were also driver autograph session and Corey LaJoie recorded his podcast in front of the live crowd.


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 pit road so it’s easy to see what is going on with the cars when they pit.


Prior races I’ve attended at the track haven’t been particularly well attended, but when the crowd is full, like on the most recent weekend I attended, the race atmosphere is amazing.



Neighborhood 2

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.


Fans 5

Like with most Cup races, fans are super passionate. A good percentage wear shirts and/or hats of their favorite driver or team. Fans will also let you know if they don’t like you. This is evident especially during driver introductions. They are engaged throughout the race even when their driver isn’t near the front of the pack.


Access 3

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 freeway and there is plenty of signage to direct you. Parking is ample. Once inside, concessions seemed to flow well with no long waits. When full, there are lines for the restroom, particularly at the end of a stage or during an extended yellow flag. If the Cup series is to become permanent at the speedway, this will need to be addressed. There is plenty of handicapped seating available. The only real drawback is leaving the track once the race is over. There are only two ways to get back to the freeway and one is quite cumbersome through back roads.


Return on Investment 4

Parking is free is you want to walk a little bit. You can pay if you want to park closer, but this option will need to be purchased online prior to the race and those spots can sell out. Tickets to the Cup race were reasonable at around $100 or a little more, but with the hype of the first Cup race, tickets sold out in the presale so they were going for much more on the secondary market. If you can secure tickets directly from the speedway and not on the secondary market, it is a great value to see a Cup race at a track that hasn’t hosted one before.


Extras 3

One extra point goes to the staff. The ticket takers and concessions folks were all very friendly.


There were numerous opportunities to meet the drivers and get autographs. Fans showed up early all three days for such activities.


The speedway has a Field of Dreams vibe to it, being surrounded by corn fields.


Final Thoughts

The Iowa Speedway is a bare-bones, but fun race experience. The first Cup race was an unqualified success and there’s no reason to think this track can’t improve on what it needs to if NASCAR can commit to an annual return. The “fastest short track on the planet” is worthy of hosting a race annually and well worth a visit.


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Follow my sports journeys on Twitter and Instagram: @stadiumjwriter

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