INDYCAR weekend at Iowa draws mega concert lineup, why this could end up selling out the weekend

INDIANAPOLIS — If you build it, they will come. Well, after a year hiatus from the Iowa Speedway, the NTT INDYCAR Series is not only back this July, but they’re making their presence known throughout the Iowa community. They’re showing this time around, it’s going to be really hard to leave them off the future schedules.

They found a major entitlement sponsor, found huge presenting sponsors and now, have found a mega concert lineup for pre and even post race music at the 7/8-mile bullring in Newton.

Hy-Vee, Inc. and INDYCAR announce that four award-winning music acts will perform live during Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend, July 22-24, at Iowa Speedway. Tickets for Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.hyveeindycarweekend.com or by calling the race ticket office at (641) 417-6007.

Three-time Grammy award-winning country music superstar Tim McGraw will perform prior to the start of the Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 presented by DoorDash NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Saturday, July 23. Following Saturday’s race, Billboard record-holding country music duo Florida Georgia Line will take to the stage at Iowa Speedway. On Sunday, July 24, three-time grammy award winner and multi-platinum artist Gwen Stefani will perform prior to the start of the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. A performance by nine-time Grammy-nominated country music artist Blake Shelton will provide a memorable ending to the turbocharged weekend following Sunday’s race.

Both pre- and post-race concerts are included with Saturday and Sunday Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend tickets as each artist will perform on stage trackside, in front of the main grandstands at Iowa Speedway. Both pre-race concerts will feature 50-minute performances while each post-race concert will feature a 90-minute show. Ticketholders can also purchase a Post-Race Concert Pit Pass for both the Florida Georgia Line (Saturday) and Blake Shelton (Sunday) live performances. The Post-Race Concert Pit Pass will provide access to an exclusive area near the start/finish line for an up-close view of the live performance. To purchase a Post-Race Concert Pit Pass, visit www.hyveeindycarweekend.com.

“We want this event to be one of the most talked about events of the year by providing race-goers with an unforgettable experience,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee’s chairman and CEO. “We are thrilled to work with our sponsors to bring this caliber of musical entertainment to Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend at Iowa Speedway. Iowa will be the place to be this summer with these live music acts coupled with nationally televised INDYCAR races and a festival-like atmosphere that has something for everyone to enjoy.”

In addition to premier on-track action with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, as well as the rising stars of racing competing in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend will include a festival-like atmosphere with three days of music, food and family-focused entertainment, including:

  • A Food Truck Village featuring dozens of Midwest food trucks
  • Kids’ games and activities on Saturday, July 23
  • Special activities to honor the nation’s farmers on Sunday, July 24
  • And much more!

“What an incredible music lineup for fans to enjoy during Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend,” said Bud Denker, president of Penske Corporation, which owns INDYCAR. “With some of the biggest names and best performers in music, combined with great racing at the ‘Fastest Short Track on the Planet,’ the weekend is going to deliver an experience unlike one we have ever seen in INDYCAR. Thanks to the continued support of our partners at Hy-Vee, fans in Iowa will be part of something special during Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend.”

INDYCAR is showing a nice blend of music entertainment and racing. That’s what sells. With an oval weekend, you have to attract fans and in order to do so, you have to give them something to want to come to.

While some may say, “that’s a race track not a concert venue,” well the place is at half capacity with ticket sales right now (12-15k) for both races. The venue seats 30k. By having huge music acts like this come into central Iowa, you’ll immediately close that gap to capacity leaving very little tickets left for the race itself in July.

That all equals what should be a complete sell out which in turn, is what is the top goal is always for a track. If you can turn those music fans while they’re there into INDYCAR fans as well, it’s an added bonus.

“Without the attachment to an urban market, we have to have an event that draws you in,” Denker said to media on Monday morning.

See, without this type of carnival atmosphere on oval weekends, the crowds have been scarce. There’s usually long gaps between practice and qualifying sessions and fans have had to wait all day for a race.

On road/street courses, you get constant on track activity from all three ladders of the Road to Indy as well as INDYCAR action. You even at times get bonus material from GT America or the Super Trucks. They produce concerts and carnivals for entertainment throughout the day as well.

Now, Iowa is heeding that and bringing it to an oval. That’s a mega win in my book.

The same thing is happening at World Wide Technology Raceway. They get it. Curtis Francois, Chris Blair and John Bommarito have made Gateway the place to be. They’ve turned that INDYCAR weekend into one of the biggest shows on the schedule. It truly feels like a big event.

Iowa is following suit. Hy-Vee and Bommarito are spending the cash it takes to grow this sport and those in charge and running it the way it should.

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee first became involved in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES when the supermarket chain was the primary sponsor for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing’s No. 15 car in Race 2 of the 2020 Iowa Speedway doubleheader. In its third year of sponsoring RLL, Hy-Vee provides primary sponsorship of RLL’s No. 45 car, which will be driven by Jack Harvey, and associate sponsorships of Graham Rahal’s No. 15 car and No. 30 car, which will be driven by newcomer Christian Lundgaard.

Indianapolis is always going to be Indianapolis which sells itself, but for oval racing to work outside of that, you need to make it a marquee event and surround the racing with other forms of entertainment.

Iowa gets it. WWTR gets it. This is a huge step for the race in July as I expect a full house for both days of racing.

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