Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

November 27, 2013

NASCAR purchases Iowa Speedway

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — NASCAR, though its subsidiary Iowa Speedway, LLC, has been identified as the new owners of the Iowa Speedway. 

“Iowa Speedway is a great entertainment facility with a very bright future,” said Eric Nyquist, NASCAR vice president, strategic development, said in press release. “The facility has the support of the region, it’s positioned well in the heart of the Midwest, and year in and year out it provides great short-track racing action for motorsports fans."

David Higdon, with NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, told the Journal-Express that Track Designer Rusty Wallace is no longer a partial owner of the track, following this transaction. Wallace will continue to participate in promotion of the track and have other involvement. 

Earlier in the day, before the new owner was revealed, Knoxville Raceway General Manager Brian Stickel was asked for his thoughts on the sale of the nearby competitor. Stickel said he continues to wish Iowa Speedway nothing but the best of luck. Knoxville Raceway will continue to strive to work with iowa Speedway, when races in Newton do not directly conflict with Knoxville events. Scheduling conflicts make it difficult for the two tracks to work together. 

"People can't be in two different places at the same time," Stickel added. 

Stickel remains concerned about fairness regarding state incentives for entertainment venues. Iowa Speedway received $3,064,480 in sales tax rebates from the state between June 30, 2005, and June 30, 2013. Numbers for the last quarter were unavailable. Meanwhile, Knoxville Raceway paid $198,908 in sales tax in fiscal year 2011 (numbers in years 2008-10 are similar to that), $210,689 in FY12 and $195,803 in FY13. 

"That's just sales tax," Stickel said. 

The Iowa Speedway's agreement with the state last through FY16. Rep. Greg Heartsill believes that, under the new ownership, the agreement may be revisited in 2014. Iowa Speedway requested an additional $8 million, paid over four years, during the 2013 legislative session. This was approved by the Senate, but died in the House. 

An Iowa Speedway lobbyist requested time and space at the Iowa Capitol for an event on Thursday, Dec. 12, though the location of the scheduled announcement is now undecided. Because the event was originally scheduled for the Capitol, there was speculation of more possible incentives for the Newton track. Gov. Terry Branstad's spokesman, Tim Albrecht, said he was unaware of any further incentives being offered the Iowa Speedway. Heartsill was unaware of any more as well. 

Higdon was asked if Iowa Speedway will exclusively run NASCAR races after 2014. He said the track will work to attract all popular racing circuits in the coming years. 

Knoxville Raceway remains in the control of the Marion County Fair Association. The Association's regular meeting is scheduled for Monday night, Dec. 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and will include the annual board election. 

Look for more on these stories in the Dec. 6 print edition of the Knoxville Journal-Express.