MATT HUMPHREY: Good morning, everybody. I’m Matt Humphrey with NASCAR Communications, and it’s a pleasure to be in Des Moines today for this special event.
Welcome to the media, our many special guests in attendance, and all those fans watching online. First, I would like to introduce someone who has been instrumental in making today’s announcement a reality, the 43rd Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds.
Next is the senior vice president, racing development and strategy for NASCAR, Ben Kennedy.
We’re also joined by 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion as well as co-owner and driver of the No. 6 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing, Brad Keselowski.
To my left here is NASCAR Hall of Famer, 1989 NASCAR Cup Series champion, and the designer of Iowa Speedway, Rusty Wallace.
Next to Rusty is CEO of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Craig Floss, and Representative Jon Dunwell of Newton.
We would also like to say thank you and welcome to the many public officials in attendance today from the Iowa Legislature, so give them a round of applause.
We would be remiss not to recognize the members of the Clement family who are here who were instrumental in the development of Iowa Speedway with the design by Rusty Wallace.
And most importantly, I would love to thank all the fans here, all the NASCAR fans who have come out to join us for today’s announcement.
With this being NASCAR’s 75th anniversary, today’s announcement promises to make history. So to make that historic announcement, I would first like to welcome Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
GOVERNOR REYNOLDS: Thank you. Thank you so much. Today is an exciting day for the state of Iowa and for racing fans across the country as we welcome NASCAR back to the Hawkeye State for an exciting announcement about its future at the Iowa Speedway.
This morning we are so fortunate to be joined by some of NASCAR’s leaders, legends, and racing stars. I first want to extend a warm Iowa welcome to Ben Kennedy, who is the Senior VP of Racing Development and Strategy. He is also a former racer and a great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France.
NASCAR’s, as you heard, Cup Series Champion, Brad Keselowski, who drives the No. 6 Ford Mustang and co-owns RFK Racing and is a three-time NASCAR Xfinity Series winner at the Iowa Speedway, I think Brad knows a little bit about the track.
Finally, as you heard, we’re so fortunate to have legendary racer Rusty Wallace who helped design the Iowa Speedway, and this is a track that lives up to its reputation as the fastest short track on the planet.
So in a few minutes Ben will deliver today’s news, but, first, I want to take this opportunity to say a few words about why the Iowa-NASCAR partnership is such a natural fit. Iowans are known and respected for our strong work ethic, family values, and our close-knit communities. We stand for American values, like faith, freedom, and opportunity for all. These things that Iowans love most are what NASCAR does best, and that’s why Iowa has worked so hard over the years to establish itself as a racing destination.
This morning I want to thank Hy-Vee and the Iowa Corn Growers Association. These two organizations have been strong supporters of motorsports in Iowa, and they recognize the local horsepower that’s been a winning combination, a great track in a community that loves racing.
Iowa Speedway is that track, and Newton is that community. Now with the sport’s biggest brand returning, Iowa proudly takes its place in the victory lane. At a local level Newton and the surrounding area will benefit from a surge of economic activity. On average, NASCAR premium events generate approximately $100 million in economic impact per Cup event for its racing communities and with an increase of new fans attending races in-person and more than 3 million TV viewers on average tuning in per minute last year, fans from coast-to-coast will experience racing through the Iowa lens.
As Governor, I am confident that not only will we meet the expectations of NASCAR and its fans, we will exceed them. Like when Iowa first hosted Major League Baseball for the Field of Dreams game in 2021 from that first pitch to the game-winning home run deep into the cornfield in the ninth inning against a picture-perfect sunset Iowa delivered.
And now we can’t wait to deliver again as we welcome NASCAR back to the Iowa Speedway. I want to thank everyone who helped make this possible, and I especially want to acknowledge Lesa France Kennedy, and Executive Vice Chair of NASCAR, for keeping an open line of communication with me and an open mind as to what the Iowa market can offer.
With that, it is truly my pleasure to turn things over to Ben for the big announcement.
BEN KENNEDY: Thank you, Governor Reynolds, and thank you all for being here today. This is certainly another landmark day in the history of NASCAR, and today we’re proud to officially announce that on June 16th, 2024, the NASCAR Cup Series will race for the first time at Iowa Speedway.
It’s a good-looking car. Today’s announcement is a triumph for incredible race fans around the world. They have long sought NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway, and we’re happy to finally deliver that for them. We fully expect this to be one of the most highly anticipated events on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule and another exciting race for our NASCAR fans.
We are also pleased to announce today that Iowa Corn has partnered with us on the entitlement for the first-ever Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway. We are grateful to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board for their partnership to support this historic event. We also would like to thank Iowa Corn Growers Association and their CEO, Craig Floss, who is with us here today, as well as the rest of the board for their support.
NASCAR Cup Series will not be alone on this race weekend. We’ll also have the NASCAR Xfinity Series joining us on Saturday of that weekend and then the ARCA Menards Series kicking off the weekend on Friday night, and we have seen some great racing over the past several years with Ron Drager and the ARCA Menards Series.
Thank you, again, to Governor Reynolds for your unwavering support along with Iowa Legislature and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
I would now like to welcome the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion and three-time Iowa Speedway winner Brad Keselowski.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: First off, I have to say what an honor it is to be up here. A beautiful day to be here in Iowa. Gosh, buckle up, Iowa. Are you ready for this, a NASCAR Cup Series race? This is incredible news.
I was a big advocate for the Cup Series to come race here since day one. The first day I got to come to this racetrack and see just how beautiful the facilities are, how well laid out they are with the interstate and the airport adjacent to them, just really well thought out from top down, the fan experience.
Thinking about the fan experience, part of what makes this to me such an easy event to get behind is just that. The fans that come out to every event we’ve had with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR in general that have really shown their passion for the sport and their passion for NASCAR.
I think I’ve been pestering a few of my friends here at NASCAR over my shoulder here for a while now about bringing a Cup Series date to Iowa, so it’s only natural to see that happen. As soon as it came out, they made a phone call back to me and said, I think you need to go to Iowa. I’m glad to be here and glad to play a small role in this announcement.
So a lot to be excited for. Obviously one of the best tracks I think in the United States, and we’re going to put on a tremendous race, and I think this is going to be one of the can’t-miss events of the year and can’t wait to see the community come out and embrace it.
So I think I’m going to turn it over to the guy who is really responsible for a lot of this happening, which is Rusty Wallace here who had the vision for laying out the track and putting together really all the things that make this place so special throughout the years.
I just want to say thank you. We can’t wait to see you when we come back here. Governor, it’s an honor to have you here as well. I hope we can get a guarantee on this weather when we come back. We’ll work on that one and have a vote on that in the House here.
We’re super excited to be here and very thankful to see this event come together. So thanks for everyone that supports it, and we can’t wait to see you when the race day comes. Rusty?
RUSTY WALLACE: Thank you, Brad, appreciate it.
Wow. What a big day for Iowa. This is something that I’ve waited for a long time, but before I even get started, I have to do some thank yous real quickly, and then that’s to the Clement family. I see Conrad Clement. Conrad, if you hold your hand up. Conrad had a big vision, along with their brother Stan Clement, which passed, which we miss Stan a ton.
Stan has been out here campaigning for a Cup race since the start of 2006 and worked so hard behind the scenes and up front with everybody to try to get a Cup race here. But he was a great steward of the Iowa Speedway. Well missed.
I also see his beautiful wife, Brenda, standing over there. Brenda, nice to see you. This is a great day. This is a day that everybody was waiting to happen. Brad Manatt, the Manatt family who funded the speedway and actually paid for everything to get it on the ground and get it going, I just can’t thank everybody enough.
This is a dream come true for me as a track designer to finally get a Cup race here at Iowa, and there’s one thing I do know. We’ve seen enough races here at Iowa to know it’s going to put on one heck of a Cup race. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve seen some fantastic side-by-side racing, great finishes.
But what a wonderful day. And, Governor, thank you so much for your support, and Ben from NASCAR and everybody from NASCAR, and the Corn Growers Association, and the Representatives for making this happen. What a wonderful deal.
Mike Helton, I know you’re a believer in Iowa Speedway too, and thank you, buddy, for what you have done. I know you have done a ton.
But for me and everybody that had anything to do with this Iowa Speedway, getting it going, today is our day. We finally got it. Here we are.
Next June 16th we’ll be racing Cup cars at the Iowa Speedway, and I can’t thank anybody enough. This is a fantastic day for everybody. We should all be excited. Thank you very much.
CRAIG FLOSS: Good morning, everybody. My name is Craig Floss, and I serve as the CEO of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and I am proud to represent Iowa’s corn farmers here today.
I’m accompanied by two of my leaders. First Stan Nelson is a farmer from Des Moines County, and the president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and Jolene Riessen is the President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and farms in Sac County, Iowa.
We are here today, obviously, to talk about this really unique partnership with NASCAR, the Iowa Speedway, Governor Reynolds about bringing this first Cup Series race to our great state.
As many of you know, Iowa corn is no stranger to racing. As we brought the farmer-grown biofuels to consumers to race sponsorships at the Iowa Speedway for more than a dozen years. Additionally, we worked with NASCAR and Growth Energy to help bring the ethanol E-15 blend to NASCAR in 2011. Today is truly an exciting day for the State of Iowa.
It’s also truly exciting for Iowa’s farmers. We’re the number one corn-growing state and the number one ethanol-producing state. Today we can talk about how we’re going to showcase the power and performance of our home-grown Sunoco racing E-15 at the fastest short track on the planet.
It’s surrounded by corn fields, the very source of that amazing, renewable, and affordable biofuel that benefits not only the NASCAR drivers and their engines, but also all drivers across the country when they fill up each and every day.
Iowa corn represents both, as I said, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and they’re made up of farmers who are dedicated to unlocking the potential to sustainably meet the needs of our growing world.
Today, farmers are busy harvesting their sustainable corn crops across the state while improving soil health and protecting our water quality. With their hard work, their corn crop will turn into over 4,000 different products, renewable products, like biofuels, like NASCAR is racing in their cars.
So for us this sponsorship is not only about bringing exciting events to Iowa, but also a great opportunity to share the Iowa corn farmers’ ability to meet the growing needs of consumers for sustainable food and fuel.
In our state we are so fortunate to have Governor Reynolds. She has been working tirelessly to deliver year-round E-15, the same fuel that’s in these NASCARs, and she’s been working across the nation with her Midwest governors, and I want everyone to please give Governor Reynolds a big round of applause for the support she’s providing to our industry.
We are excited to continue to work with NASCAR, Governor Reynolds, the Iowa Speedway, and other great partners at the track as well to celebrate our great state, Iowa’s corn farmers, and our home-grown biofuels next summer. Can’t wait for it to get here.
It is now my privilege to introduce representative Jon Dunwell from Newton, home to the Iowa Speedway. Representative Dunwell.
JON DUNWELL: What an exciting day. I just want to close this out by saying thank you. I’m saying thank you not just because we’re finally getting the big race, not just because of another big sporting event in Iowa and another increase of expansion of a sporting venue. What really makes me excited as not only a citizen in Iowa but also a representative is the partnership.
Watching our Governor, watching the state legislature, watching business, watching sponsors come together to make a difference in our community. As we take the problems that go across our country and our world, that’s the kind of partnership we need. And that’s what celebrates big in my heart today, and that’s why I am filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude that we get to celebrate this today.
So as we bring this to a close, I think we’ve got to kind of grab a phrase from the racing world. It’s time to start our engines and let’s get ready for next year.
Thank you very much.
MATT HUMPHREY: Thank you, Representative Dunwell. Thank you to everyone on this stage here today who made history happen in the State of Iowa.
So on-sale ticket information for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Iowa Speedway will be announced in the near future, but today race fans can put down a $25 deposit for priority access to purchase tickets before the public on-sale date.
I encourage you to go to iowaspeedway.com for the latest information and developments in that regard.
To the members of the media, we will first take a moment for a photo opportunity with all of our esteemed guests onstage at the car, and then we will break out for some group interviews following.
Thank you, again, everyone, and we look forward to seeing you back at Iowa Speedway next year, June 14th through 16th, for a historic weekend. Have a great rest of your day here in beautiful Des Moines.
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