May 12, 2021

NASCAR restructures Iowa Speedway staffing

Iowa Speedway will operate with a smaller on-site staff going forward as it enters its 15th year of racing at the 7/8-mile racetrack in Newton.

It was confirmed by NASCAR on Saturday, a day after the news broke that an undisclosed number of employees across NASCAR were laid off because of the restructuring plan for the organization.

“Iowa Speedway looks forward to running our 2020 race event schedule and delivering another exciting season of racing,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said in a statement on Friday. “With assistance from the Kansas Speedway staff, we remain committed to providing an unforgettable race day experience and great entertainment value for our fans.”

NASCAR completed a merger with the International Speedway Corporation in October. The deal brought 12 racetracks under NASCAR’s direct ownership.

The NASCAR-owned racetrack in Newton will receive help from the Kansas Speedway for the racing season and during their three race weekends. NASCAR purchased Iowa Speedway in November 2013.

Since the merger, NASCAR assessed its overall organization and how to streamline operations. Kansas Speedway’s close proximity to Iowa Speedway — a four-hour drive from Kansas City, Kan. to Newton — fit into the future vision by NASCAR.

Kansas Speedway holds two NASCAR Cup Series races each season and has more resources available than the Iowa racetrack. In 2020, Kansas Speedway has the NASCAR Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series on May 30-31 and a three-race weekend in October with ARCA, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.

The only official statement by NASCAR said:

“Following the (ISC) merger, NASCAR began evolving its operations and we remain committed to this process during these unprecedented times to ensure the long-term health of our sport. Like other businesses, we are working to get through this economic impact and position ourselves for success upon our return to racing.”

The Newton News contacted Hyatt and NASCAR on Saturday. There was no comment by either source on how many employees at Iowa Speedway were affected and who — besides Hyatt — would remain for the operation of the track.

Hyatt became Iowa Speedway president in February 2018 replacing Jimmy Small, who was the president from December 2013. Small led Iowa Speedway through a transition of local ownership to NASCAR ownership.

NASCAR made this announcement while the motorsports industry has suspended racing because of the coronavirus pandemic. NASCAR did confirm to the Newton News that this decision was not made because of COVID-19 but was part of the personnel changes planned with the merger.

A week ago, NASCAR announced across-the-board pay cuts (25 percent for executives, 20 percent for other employees) as it deals with the shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NASCAR schedule was suspended after four race weekends.

NASCAR followed Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization guidelines and postponed all race events through May 3. The last race completed was the NASCAR Cup Series’ FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 8.

Iowa Speedway’s 2020 racing season is scheduled to begin with Wide Opening Weekend June 12-13 featuring the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. There will be two weekends in July filled with racing at the track.

The NTT IndyCar Series will race under the lights at Iowa Speedway on July 18. The ARCA Menards Series will take the green flag July 17. The 2020 Iowa Speedway racing season concludes July 31-Aug. 1 with a NASCAR doubleheader featuring the Whelen Modified Series 150 and the Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250.

Iowa Speedway, which was designed by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace, opened in September 2006 and INDYCAR was the first major racing series to come to Newton in June 2007. NASCAR is the third owner of the racetrack.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535
or jsheets@newtondailynews.com