My first trip to Iowa Speedway was in 2014. That was the season that they extended the distance of the race from 250 laps to 300, rebranding it: the Iowa Corn 300. It was under the lights and it was my first time experiencing a Verizon IndyCar Series night race in person… trust me when I tell you that I will never forget it. The way the lights danced on the liveries, making the cars sparkle at 180+ mph. The backdrop of a dark black sky, dotted with stars, and no metropolitan lights to dim their shine made the whole event a true experience, not to mention being able to pivot on my heels in pit lane and follow a car with my own eyes, all the way around the track, losing sight of it for small snippets of time, only. Wow. What a facility. I wasn’t able to make it to Iowa last year, and I think I’ll always regret that because, while we didn’t know it at the time, we know now – 2015 was the last IndyCar night race at Iowa Speedway.
My hope was that this year’s scheduling on Sunday was a one-time thing but we found out yesterday that that is not the case. I have to admit though, I would rather race on Sundays in Iowa than not at all! Jimmy Small, Iowa Speedway President, explained it best when announcing the continued presence of the Verizon IndyCar Series in Newton, Iowa::
“…2007, after our (Iowa Speedway’s) 2006 inaugural season, IndyCar decided to switch over to ethanol-grade fuel and Iowa Corn Growers stepped up and we put together a partnership to launch what is now a tradition here in the state… the fastest show on the earth met the fastest short track on the planet, something we are super proud of at the Speedway. ‘If you build it, they will come.’ That’s what we’re here to announce. We are here to say, sort of edit that a little bit: ‘If you build it, they will keep coming.’ So we are here today to announce that we’ve extended our relationship with both IndyCar and Iowa Corn for the next two years.”
Iowa Speedway is famous for quick laps but no one does it like IndyCar. Just over 17 seconds per lap. The Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH is a 17 second ride as well. So those of you who have had the pleasure to ride it (which I know for a fact, includes many of my readers!), imagine flying around a ⅞-mile oval track, with banked sides like a bowl, in that amount of time… but, at 185 mph instead of a measly 120. If Top Thrill Dragster simulates what it’s like to be in a professional drag racing car, then Indy cars simulate what it’s like to pilot a fighter jet. This sentiment is shared by Small as well, and his career with NASCAR makes his assessment of IndyCar racing that much more eye-opening and respected due to it’s lack of bias:
“As a NASCAR employee, I was worried about saying this ten years ago, but I’m not worried about it anymore. I feel pretty confident saying this (IndyCar Iowa Corn 300) is a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. To see those (Indy) cars dive into the corner, it looks like jet fighters making a maneuver. I’ve never seen anything like it before at any racetrack with any style of race car. I get super excited.”
The racing at Iowa Speedway is top notch, as are the crowds. Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 10 NTT Data CGRT Chevy, commented on how huge the fan-base is in Iowa, second only to the Indianapolis 500. Those local IndyCar fans have to be happy with the news that IndyCar will be back to race in both 2017 and 2018, with Iowa Corn as a sponsor, and the Iowa Speedway as it’s venue.
If you are ready to plan your return trip, or even your first venture to the fastest short track on the planet, the event dates are Sunday, July 9th, 2017 and Sunday, July 8th, 2018. Times and broadcast information will be released at a later date.
Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the Iowa Corn 300:
Saturday, July 9:
Practice #1 – 10:00 a.m. CT/11:00 a.m. ET
Quals – 2:00 p.m. CT/3:00 p.m. ET
Practice #2 – 6:15 p.m. CT/7:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 10:
Systems Check – 1:00 p.m. CT/2:00 p.m. ET – CANCELLED
Iowa Corn 300 Race – 4:00 p.m. CT/5:00 p.m. E.T.
The Iowa Corn 300 Qualifying and Race will be broadcast live on NBCSN. Both Practice sessions will be livestreamed via IndyCar. All links to livestream plus information on radio coverage is available here.