Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

November 26, 2013

City of Newton transfers agreements

Steve Woodhouse

Newton — In a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Newton City Council voted to transfer existing agreements between the City of Newton and US Motorsports Corporation to still undisclosed new owners. 

The new ownership group is known as Iowa Speedway, LLC. Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, following the council's approval of the agreements, preemptively told the media present that he, council members and staff know who is behind the new LLC. He added that the City is prepared to have a "fantastic, long and prosperous" agreement with the new ownership, but if asked, no one would entertain questions as to who the new owners are. 

"We want them to be in control of that announcement," Hansen said. Similar remarks were made by Iowa Speedway Director of Communications Craig Armstrong. Armstrong told the Journal-Express that he had nothing more to add, but an announcement would be coming soon. 

The Newton Daily News has already dispelled one possible new owner. The newspaper reports that International Speedway Corporation has denied any involvement with the track's purchase. 

The Iowa Speedway was originally owned by Manaco, largely comprised of the Mannatt family, and ground was broken on the track in 2005. In 2011, US Motorsports Corporation, largely consisting of the Clement family, took ownership. 

USMC and US Motorsports Corporation filed a lawsuit against former owner Manaco and Manatt's on Jan. 24, 2012. USMC entered into a purchase agreement with Manaco to be executed on June 30, 2011, in the amount of $19,268,291 for the facility. This agreement included $6,268,291 in loans, guaranteed by members of the Clement family. The lawsuit has since been settled. 

At the time of the sale to USMC, Manaco owned 91.57 percent of the Iowa Speedway. Track Designer Rusty Wallace owned 8.43 percent. Wallace was not a party to the purchase agreement with USMC, and separately exchanged his shares in US Motorsports Corporation for shares in USMC on the closing date. No one has commented regarding Wallace's ownership status upon completion of the sale to Iowa Speedway, LLC. 

The Newton Daily News has also indicated that there will be an event at the Iowa State Capitol on Dec. 12 that may pertain to the track. Announcement of the new ownership is expected prior to this event. 

The Iowa Senate approved $8 million in May for the Iowa Speedway, but it was denied in the Iowa House. Sen. Amy Sinclair and Rep. Greg Heartsill both opposed the funding. 

Upon hearing the announcement of the Senate's actions, Knoxville Raceway General Manager Brian Stickel said he wished the Iowa Speedway luck in bringing in the top racing circuit in the country, the NASCAR Cup Series, to Newton, but Stickel felt additional funding to Newton's race track would be unfair to other venues in the state. 

Stickel was unavailable for comment regarding the sale of the track at the time of this post. 

The Marion County Fair Board election is scheduled for Monday night, Dec. 2. Look for coverage of the election, and the latest on the sale of the Iowa Speedway and its possible impact on Knoxville Raceway, in the Dec. 6 print edition.