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Track Talk: Iowa Speedway revs it up in May

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 11:44 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2013 11:47 a.m. CDT

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The maintenance shop and administrative offices at Iowa Speedway are beginning to resemble a springtime beehive, as central Iowa shakes off the winter doldrums and everyone is welcoming the arrival of warmer weather and yet another summertime racing season.

The staff is in high gear, preparing for an eighth action-packed season at “America’s Place to Race,” beginning with the Iowa Grand Motorcycle Rally on May 30 to June 2, and the level of activity around our track is intense, to say the least.

Observing the fast pace of my co-workers last week, I was amused at the thought of the classic line from the Wizard of Oz: “My, people come and go so quickly around here!” And there’s a very good reason for that.

No doubt, protecting our facility from the ravages of an often brutal Iowa winter is a monumental task. But it is at least as time-consuming to “un-winterize” the facility and to repair and refurbish the structures around the track that have been affected by winter weather.

This includes the painting and coating of exterior walkways and stairwells, checking doorways and window seals and verifying the working condition of numerous other systems and fixtures. Hats off to our operations crew for the yeoman’s work that they have already begun in earnest and will continue to do throughout the month of May ... and all the way through September, for that matter.

Most people don’t have a clue about the level of "behind-the-scenes" work that goes into preparing for the events we put on at Iowa Speedway. So many details, from the scripting of pre-race ceremonies to Victory Lane logistics to security checkpoints and hours of operation, and the list continues far beyond those examples.

None of these tasks are accomplished on their own, or without careful and broad-based planning. So, we are very fortunate to have folks on our staff with both the experience and vision to get a myriad of jobs done in a timely manner. Procrastination is never a virtue and especially so in the motorsports entertainment business!

Meanwhile, the month of May is amazingly busy with events, and we’re still more than 30 days out from our first major racing event, the DuPont Pioneer 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend on June 7-8.

Here’s a sampling of upcoming events at Iowa Speedway in May. As you can see, our dance card is getting pretty full this month:

• A major service organization’s annual banquet in the Newton Club (May 2)• A wedding and wedding reception in the Newton Club (May 4)• Security Training in the Media Center (May 4)• Three different tour groups visiting the entire facility (May 4, 16 and 24)• Newton Chamber of Commerce breakfast in the Newton Club (May 9)• NASCAR Fire Safety Training in the Media Center(May 10-13)• Des Moines Valley Region SCCA races on the road course (May 17-19)• Newton Rotary Club meeting in the Newton Club (May 21)• A two-day driver training course in the parking lots and infield (May 22-23)• Rusty Wallace Racing Experience on the oval (May 25-27)• NASCAR Nationwide team — private testing on the oval (May 28)• 2nd Annual Iowa Grand Motorcycle Rally on the concourse (May 30-June 2)

While most are private events, or limited to members of the organizations who booked the dates, at least three are open to the general public, meaning, "You’re invited!"

The first will be the SCCA races on our 1.3-mile road course, which incorporates part of the 7/8-mile tri-oval with the right-and-left turning twisty bits on our infield. Designed by renowned road course specialist Alan Wilson, the Iowa Speedway course is perfect for the type of racing undertaken by the Des Moines Valley Region with their "double regional/double national" format.

The wheel-to-wheel action of the GroundPounders V-8 muscle cars and open wheel Wings Festival will showcase racecar drivers from around the Midwest, including many local drivers. SCCA club racing competition includes 28 National-level classes plus a number of Regional classes, ranging from open-wheel cars with wings and wide tires to lightly modified, small displacement production sedans and everything in between, plus a special teen street driving school on Saturday, will all be on tap.

For just $10, spectators can enter the infield through our tunnel and get up close to the road course racing action. You may log on to www.iowaspeedway.com/aspx/AboutSpeedway/News.aspx?id=1388 for more information, and then make your plans to be there.

Ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a NASCAR-style stock car on a real racetrack? Or maybe just sit "right seat" and let a professional take you on the ride of your life? You can do that on Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27) at Iowa Speedway when the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience comes to town. Or plan on a Ride-Along experience the day of our first NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the DuPont Pioneer 250, on Saturday, June 8. Details and pricing are available on the RWRE website, www.racewithrusty.com.

And that brings us to the end of May, and the you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it biker lifestyle event that will kick off Iowa Speedway’s big major event summer weekends. Thursday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2, the second annual Iowa Grand Motorcycle Rally will be in full swing, and anyone with either a bike or an interest in all things two-wheel should be on site.

In addition to special Saturday appearances by the star of FX Network’s "Sons of Anarchy" series, Charlie Hunnam, the rally’s entertainment line-up will include live musical acts, numerous food, beverage and merchandise vendors, bike displays, tattoos, burn-out and talent contests, motorcycle drag racing, lawnmower racing, body painting, and the ever-popular "Wall of Death" motorcycle daredevil show.

Everything you need to know about the Iowa Grand Motorcycle Rally is as easy as a click on your computer or smart phone to www.iowagrandrally.com. If a little "edgy" fun is on your radar screen this summer, the rally should be your first stop!

Hopefully, you have a much clearer picture about what we’re up to at Iowa Speedway in the month of May and maybe a bit more appreciation for what it takes to do what we do, year after year. In any case, May is the month we rev it up for summer, and we hope you’ll join us when you can.

In the meantime, Season Tickets, weekend passes and individual event tickets are still selling briskly. If you don’t have yours yet, and you want to experience the all-out fun of Iowa Speedway this year, just log on to www.iowaspeedway.com, or call us at 866-RUSTY-GO (787-8946), and order yours today.

Or you can visit the Ticket Office in our administration building at 3333 Rusty Wallace Drive in Newton, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and check out our little "springtime beehive" for yourself!

In next month’s edition of Track Talk (Newton Daily News, June 6), all the Stars and Cars of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and the IZOD IndyCar Series will come to life as we prepare to launch the 2013 racing season. Hey, it’s your life... Rev it up at Iowa Speedway!

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