SBD/December 2, 2013/Facilities

NASCAR's Purchase Of Iowa Speedway Raises Some Eyebrows In Industry

Iowa Speedway hosts three NASCAR-sanctioned races each year
NASCAR last week was identified as the buyer of Iowa Speedway, and the purchase "had to raise industry-wide eyebrows" as the track has been "critically acclaimed but, apparently, financially strapped," according to Ken Willis of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Iowa Speedway hosts three NASCAR-sanctioned events, and since NASCAR "obviously schedules those events, the conflict-of-interest guardians must be wondering why NASCAR would make a purchase that will eventually lead them into such a legal minefield." Willis: "Best guess from this angle: It's a short-term deal, a move to solidify Iowa Speedway's treasury for a while until another buyer can be found." NASCAR is making "the surprising purchase" instead of Int'l Speedway Corp. because ISC stockholders "might not jump at the news of a new track purchase at a time when so much is being spent" on the Daytona Rising project at Daytona Int'l Speedway. Willis wrote, "When all is said and done, the Iowa Speedway purchase will make sense. Releasing the news the day before Thanksgiving? Stumped on that one" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 11/30). NASCAR Managing Dir of Integrated Marketing Communications David Higdon said NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France was "very much personally involved" in the purchase. Higdon added, "This is driven from the top. He loved the idea. He pushed it hard. He made us work to see how it would work within our structure. ... We have no intentions to purchase other tracks. This isn't the first of many. This is a unique situation" In Des Moines, Leistikow & Miller noted Iowa Speedway now becomes the "only NASCAR-owned oval track." It also will cause NASCAR "to schedule annual races with IndyCar as an owner -- another first." Meanwhile, there are "no plans" to add a Cup race at the track (DES MOINES REGISTER, 11/28).
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