A Year without NASCAR at Iowa Speedway

With COVID-19, things are changing everyday. Unfortunately, a lot of those changes are cancellations of events we look forward to every year.

NASCAR has revised its schedule. And with those revisions, came the unfortunate cancellation of NASCAR events at Iowa Speedway.

Iowa Speedway put out a press release earlier with details and information about the cancellations, including refund information. It can be viewed here.

With everything going on in the world leading up to this announcement, I can’t say part of me didn’t see it coming. 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of worse stuff going on in the world right now than a changed racing schedule. In fact, while this breaks my heart, I would rather be safe than sorry. I completely understand why NASCAR is doing this for the safety of fans and employees.   

But I can’t lie, I’m truly going to miss seeing NASCAR at Iowa Speedway this year.  While I may have some bias because I live in Iowa, the racetrack in Newton truly is my favorite. 

I grew up obsessed with NASCAR.  It all started in 2004, after seeing my first race on TV. Jeff Gordon won that day, and he became my favorite driver. 

After I caught the racing bug. I had dreams of going to watch a race live. Growing up, my family didn’t travel much, so going to a NASCAR race in another state was out of the question. 

You can imagine my excitement when the plans for Iowa Speedway were announced. A driver I really looked up to had designed it too. Rusty Wallace! The situation was shaping up to be a perfect one. 

The possibility of going to a real live race was now in my view. With Newton only being about an hour away from my home, I knew I’d be at the track in no time. 

Not too long after my dreams of going to the new racetrack were first ignited, I came home from a day of sixth grade to find two tickets from my Dad for that weekend’s race!  It was finally happening!

That first race I went to wasn’t a NASCAR sanctioned race.  It was actually a race put on by a series called the American Speed Association, or ASA for short.  It didn’t bother me though. I was seeing stock cars on the track for the first time live. Nothing was going to halt that excitement. 

I mentioned earlier that I caught the racing bug. Well, after seeing that first weekend of action at Iowa Speedway, I caught a similar (but slightly different) bug. The LIVE racing bug!

Don’t get me wrong, watching a race on TV has a lot of upside. You can keep up with all of the news developing throughout the race, and see every angle of the track up close.  But seeing a race live, that’s on another level. There’s just something about being at the track, smelling the fuel, being with other fans, getting close to drivers and of course, my favorite part, hearing the engines roar! It can’t be topped.

As I mentioned, the first race I attended at the track wasn’t a NASCAR event. But it didn’t take long for that to change. Much like how my Dad surprised me with my first tickets to Iowa Speedway, he did again with tickets to a NASCAR event there. 

For the first time, the NASCAR Xfinity Series (At that time it was called the Nationwide Series) was hitting the track in Newton. At that point, it was going to be the biggest NASCAR sanctioned event at the track, and I was going. It felt like a dream.

I haven’t experienced a race quite like it since. The energy there that day was high. Fans knew it was something special, and they showed up. Oh boy, did they show up! The stands were packed! I remember seeing a replay of the race later and hearing how impressed the TV commentators were with the crowd. I think Iowa really made their mark in the NASCAR world that day.

Plus, many NASCAR Cup Series drives came to race. Drivers I watched week in and week out were right in front of me.The whole thing seemed larger than life. It was the closest I had ever felt to something that seemed so untouchable a few years before. I didn’t think my love for racing could grow anymore than it already had. But after that day, it did. 

Iowa Speedway is special to me. It’s a big part of why I love NASCAR, and it always will be. It has made me into the fan I am today. 

I may not get to go to the track this year, but reminiscing on what past events at Iowa Speedway have meant to me makes me feel better about that. I need to count my blessings in times like these, and when it comes to my time as a race fan, I’ve been blessed.

After a year of being away from a live racetrack, coming back to it is always special.  Even though that wait might be longer now, just think how much sweeter that feeling is going to be when we do get to go back.  

I don’t know what is going to happen, or who is going to win in the first live NASCAR race back at Iowa Speedway with the fans in attendance. But I do know this, it is going to be special. It’s going to be another racing memory I can’t wait to experience.