A relatively new sponsor to IndyCar racing has created a race fan’s Heaven at Iowa Speedway this weekend.
Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee and Penske Entertainment — the owner of the NTT IndyCar Series — are putting on a phenomenal two-day weekend at the ⅞-mile oval that includes an IndyCar doubleheader and four major concerts.
Saturday saw a pre-race concert by Tim McGraw, Josef Newgarden’s fourth victory at the speedway, and a post-race concert by Florida Georgia Line.
Sunday’s itinerary includes a pre-race concert by Gwen Stefani, the second race of IndyCar’s doubleheader, and a Blake Shelton concert to end the weekend. Tickets to each day include access to both concerts and the race.
Not surprisingly, the fans came a lot. Saturday’s attendance was projected at 40,000 and another 40,000 are expected for Sunday.
The massive showing, however, likely would not have been possible without Hy-Vee’s support. Penske rented out the facility, which is owned by NASCAR, for the weekend, allowing the event to go forward.
But it was Hy-Vee that poured millions of dollars into the weekend, creating a world-class event. Hy-Vee paid for all four musical acts to come to town, set up massive suites in turns 1 and 4 and brought several food trucks onto the property to create a festival-like atmosphere.
The entire track grounds have also been painted in a sea of red, with Hy-Vee signage everywhere. The grocery chain even set up two “mini-marts” on the track property, selling food, soda, beer, and more for fans in attendance.
And the promotion wasn’t just limited to the track either. Local Hy-Vee stores have been jam-packed with IndyCar signage and merchandise promoting the race and Hy-Vee-sponsored driver Jack Harvey for the last few weeks.
“IndyCar has been doing incredible this whole weekend, building the track the way they did,” IndyCar driver Romain Grosjean said. “And they really play the game. You see in the supermarkets, the cakes, the cars, Jack Harvey. If people around here don’t know Jack Harvey by now, they haven’t been in the store.
“It’s been really cool. It brings something on top of the race weekend. I think the concept is going to be amazing, as well. It’s so cool that he can come to a weekend, for the fans of racing, they get to see the race. A little bit less familiar, but they have the concepts they would care about. I think that would be something great to have to add to many events.”
Harvey, who has been very busy this weekend signing autographs at local Hy-Vee stores to promote the event, could not be happier to see the work his sponsor has done to put on quite the show in Iowa.
“This event is great for so many reasons,” Harvey said. “I think that when you go spend any time in Iowa or Des Moines, you see what Hy-Vee means to the community and to that state. And obviously, as a race fan having been to the race track at Iowa Speedway, what it means to the racing community.
“So for Hy-Vee to pull both of those two groups back together frankly is massive. Their commitment to the series, to the track and also to us as a team is just great. I haven’t been a part of anything like this before. I think it’s nice that you’re going to go to a track and have a proper home race for a sponsor because frankly we wouldn’t be racing there without Hy-Vee. It’s incredible that they brought it back. All the drivers love racing there, all the teams like going there and the fans love it and we all have Hy-Vee to thank.”
Hy-Vee has certainly set the bar for proper race promotion, and if similar sponsors step up to the plate to promote other IndyCar races in different markets, the series could have a healthy slate of “crown jewel” events from coast to coast.
Newgarden scores fourth victory at Iowa
As mentioned earlier, Josef Newgarden was a winner once again at Iowa Saturday afternoon. The Team Penske driver picked up his fourth victory of the 2022 season as well as his fourth overall at Iowa.
“To be honest with you, I felt nice and cool today and this car was good,” Newgarden said of his win. “I was surprised at how hard these guys were pushing on these restarts. You know, this was a long game day and I think (Pato) O’Ward definitely looked like he was the toughest competitor today to beat.
“But I am really proud of our team and obviously Hitachi and Team Chevy showed up with a really good piece. I was disappointed after qualifying because I just hate losing them because I felt like we had enough to get the job done and we didn’t.
“That motivated me because I knew we had a car here today to win this race and in front of this great crowd. Unbelievable job by Hy-Vee, you know they are throwing concerts all weekend and they are doing everything they can amenity-wise for people out here. So, this has been a great event and its one of my favorite tracks. To be able to win here again, it’s always very special.”
Newgarden’s victory allowed him to advance to second in the overall point standings, 15 points behind Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericcson. Pato O’Ward finished second, while Will Power finished third.