Auto Racing

Iowa Speedway will allow limited fans for IndyCar races in July

Charlie Kimball (23) leads a pack of cars on the backstretch during the 2018 IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedw
Charlie Kimball (23) leads a pack of cars on the backstretch during the 2018 IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. (The Gazette)

Tickets are on sale for a three-race weekend coming to Iowa Speedway in Newton later this month.

The July 17-18 weekend will include two IndyCar 250 races and an ARCA stock car lunch time feature.

“Just the fact that there is live, big-league racing action coming to Iowa is exciting,” said Michael Montri, president of the dual Iowa 250s. “It’s the first time we’ve had back-to-back night races at Iowa and it’s the only night races on the Indy schedule this season.”

While Iowa may have somewhat looser guidelines, for now, when it comes to social distancing and the sharing of public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa Speedway will do its best to maintain the safety of all who enter its campus.

“What we’re doing is based on all the local, state and CDC guidelines,” Montri said. “We’ve consulted with officials with all of them and told them our plan, including the Governor’s office, and we’re doing it in a way that we feel is in line with all of their guidance’s.”

What they will do is limit groups to six in the grandstands, with 6 feet separating each group. There also will be general admission seating with taped off areas in turns one and four that can accommodate groups up to four.

Each guest also will have their temperature screened in their vehicle before entering the grounds. If someone has an “elevated temperature,” which the CDC recognizes as above 100.4 degrees, they will move on to a second screening that will involve a physician asking additional questions and an oral temperature measurement. All other guests will be admitted and given a mask that is strongly encouraged to be worn and personal hand sanitizer as a precaution.

“We’re trying to go above and beyond to make sure everyone in attendance is as safe as possible,” Montri said.

Besides the viewing angles, Montri immediately noticed something upon his first visit to the track last month.

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“The most obvious thing that sticks out about the Iowa Speedway and the surrounding communities is the pride that they have in that track and racing in general,” he said. “They are some of the most loyal fans on the IndyCar circuit. Last year, they didn’t green flag the race until after midnight and it didn’t end until after 2 a.m., but there were still a ton of people in the grandstands watching the entire race and that speaks volumes to the type of fans you have in the state of Iowa.”

With sports seasons shortened, IndyCar has elected to run back-to-backs at tracks in Wisconsin and California along with Iowa Speedway.

The first race will be July 17 at 7:30 p.m. Fans with tickets for the July 18 race will not only get the second IndyCar race at 7:30 p.m., they will gain entry to the ARCA stock car “Shore Lunch 150” in the afternoon.

The two night races will include 250 laps around the 7/8-mile oval track with banking.

“It’ll be great to see them on the track,” Montri said. “The views from the grandstands and on the viewing platforms at the Iowa Speedway are unparalleled with any other oval track. There is something special about a 7/8 oval. When an oval is under a mile long it creates incredible viewing angles and this is one of the nicest tracks we come to on our circuit.”

Montri also wants to make sure fans know that IndyCar racing still is IndyCar racing at the end of the day.

“We are really excited to welcome fans back,” Montri said. “It will be a little bit of a different weekend and I’m hoping people have a little extra patience with it taking time to get everyone in with the temperature checks. Once they get into the facility, there won’t be as many displays or games to play and we have to be careful with some of our prerace ceremonies so it will look a little different leading up to the race.

“However, once that green flag drops it’s going to look just like every other year and we’re excited for that.”

Comments: justin.webster@thegazette.com

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