Stan Clement’s legacy as the instrumental visionary behind the Iowa Speedway is on full display outside the very racetrack he helped create.
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the City of Newton officially unveiled Stan Clement Drive, which covers the 2500-2700 blocks of what was formerly known as Lincoln Street. Last month, the city council approved the renamed street, which was dedicated to Clement’s memory and contributions to the community.
Clement, the former CEO and president of the Iowa Speedway, died on May 7. Craig Armstrong, Newton’s economic development specialist and former vice-president and general manager of Iowa Speedway, sung the praises of his departed friend and former co-worker.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this facility ... would not have been made had it not been for the dedication, the vision, the persistence and the sheer guts that Stanley J. Clement demonstrated in putting this all together, gathering all the resources and making it happen,” Armstrong said.
Clement had an impact on people, too. If it weren’t for Clement, Armstrong would probably not be in Newton, Iowa. There’s a lot of things that wouldn’t have happened had Clement not been there to support his community and push for a “world-class motorsports entertainment facility,” Armstrong said.
“We are blessed to have had Stan Clement among us, and we are saddened by his loss,” Armstrong continued. “But to honor him this morning, we are dedicating this street to his memory and to the dedication he provided this community and the guidance that he gave to make this facility happen.”
Newton Mayor Mike Hansen recalled a story when his grandson — an avid racing fan — referred to Clement as “Mr. Iowa Speedway.”
Hansen said, “Stan was the face of the Iowa Speedway. Now there were many, many other people involved in making this facility be able to be constructed. Many, many more people. But Stan Clement was truly the face of the Iowa Speedway.
That was true to many in Newton and to others across the state and across the country — both those in and out of the motorsports entertainment industry. Since it opened in 2006, Iowa Speedway has cemented its reputation as the fastest short track on the planet, in part thanks to Clement’s commitment.
“Stan had one goal in mind, and that was to bring world-class racing to Newton Iowa,” Hansen said. “And he was relentless in achieving that. And relentless, still, in going after NASCAR to ensure we get the top echelon racing series here at this facility. I pledged to him that I would continue that quest.”
Chaz Allen, the former mayor of Newton, described Clement as the “common thread” throughout the Iowa Speedway’s lifecycle. He remembered tearing up during the first race at the newly created racetrack. Allen thought how much of an accomplishment it was to have the racetrack in Newton at that time.
“We’re in a different time now that seems difficult, but at the time with Maytag and all the different things going on, (with) Stan’s persistence of making this happen — it happened,” he said. “I can’t tell ya how proud I am that this happened for our community, and how proud I was to know Stan all these years.”
Conrad Clement, brother of Stan Clement, thanked the city and others involved with the street dedication.
“We know that Stan is watching us from up above with that smile on his face that we all know so well,” Conrad Clement said.
Armstrong shared a message from former NASCAR racing driver Rusty Wallace, who also influenced the design of the Iowa Speedway. Wallace said Clement was “a great friend” of his and a person who was “very loyal to the Newton community,” noting the huge undertaking of the racetrack construction.
“I really don’t think it would have happened without Stan’s leadership and constant dedication to seeing this project through,” Wallace said in a statement read aloud by Armstrong. “Stan spent countless hours making Iowa Speedway become a reality in Newton, and renaming Lincoln Street after him is well-deserved.”
Armstrong added, “A lot of people didn’t know Stan well, and to that I would say you didn’t get to know the real Stan Clement — the person I knew, the person I will always miss, the person who affected my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe. He was just a wonderful human being. And he never said ‘never.’
“He said, ‘Let’s get it done.’ And he did.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org