NEWTON — “Newton has been good for the Iowa Speedway and I hope Iowa Speedway has been good for Newton,” Rusty Wallace said Thursday.
Wallace, a NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, designed Iowa Speedway and was part owner of the local race track until the recent sale of the track to the France family and NASCAR.
“My role for this race track is the same as it has been since I was asked to design a track here — I’m the ambassador for it. I love this race track and this community,” Wallace said. “The Speedway is in great hands.”
Wallace said he was knocked off his feet by the visible change to Iowa Speedway since opening weekend in May.
“I came here for the Nationwide race in May and saw the track was under new ownership and saw a great race. When I came to the track this morning (Thursday), it was ‘Whoa, what a difference,’” Wallace said. “The visible difference in the maintenance and upkeep of the track is tremendous.
“Everything Brian France and his family do with NASCAR is about the best fan experience. We’ve always had great racing here at Iowa. What they’ve done with painting and upkeep of the track since May is great.”
Although he is no long a minority owner in Iowa Speedway, Wallace is very active in promoting “the fastest short track on the planet.” He said fans will definitely see why the Speedway is known that way with this weekend’s races with the contrasting styles from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“Some people will tell you the truck series is the most exciting forms of racing NASCAR has for several reasons. One is they are trucks and flat-sided, so you can beat and bang on them during a race and they slip and slide. The trucks don’t spin out as easily as the stock cars do,” Wallace said. “These are young guys. They are hungry and want it bad, so they are aggressive on the track making for some ‘wow’ moments. And it’s only a two-hour race.”
Then you have the Indy cars.
“Those are lighter cars. Indy cars are 1,530 pounds compared to 3,400 pounds of a Nationwide car. Fans will see quick movements from the Indy cars. The speeds are fast around the track but also they make quick moves on the track. It’s fun to watch.”
Wallace said his vision for Iowa Speedway since designing it was to be a sustainable track with good ownership, constant cash flow and to put on races that every time people left the track they said ‘wow that was awesome’ and want to come back for more.
“The track is in great shape. Drivers love it because it has aged and has some wear and tear on it. It is bumpy in some places which makes for great racing,” Wallace said. “I was excited when I heard the France family wanted to purchase the track. They know how to operate race tracks. NASCAR had never purchased a track before and the France family loved this track, this community and the possibilities held here.”
Wallace said past ownership groups did a tremendous job of building a quality racing facility for drivers, the racing teams and for racing fans. He said the writing was on the wall that the expense of operating a stable racing facility was more than they could handle and the France family stepped in.
“It legitimizes our race track in Iowa. Iowa Speedway is a test bed. They will be trying things here and Iowa Speedway is on the cutting edge of new things developing for the rest of the International Speedway Corporation race tracks,” Wallace said.
“But most important, the racing fans here in Iowa, who have support the race track, will continue to have quality racing to experience. Iowa has the most race tracks than any other state in the country. That means they are race fans and love racing. I told people I was helping build Iowa Speedway because Iowa fans will show up and they did and continue to show up,” Wallace said.