A Way Forward for Ovals?

Bud Denker and Randy Edeker want to help ovals succeed. Denker, Of President of Penske Corporation, and Edeker, chairman and CEO of HyVee. have created a festival surrounding the Indycar double header at Iowa Speedway July 23 and 24. In a conference call with Indycar media yesterday, Denker, Edeker, and Graham Rahal talked about the Iowa weekend, which will feature four concerts, headlined by Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani, and Blake Shelton. \In addition the venue features a village with 75 food trucks, and a kids’ activity area on Saturday.

Ticket sales have been brisk, Denker said.

” We only have about 12,000 to 15,000 tickets to sell each
day because ticket sales have been pretty good so far. I’ve
never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen a lineup like
this before. I’ve been in motorsports for a long time. To
see what they have for that weekend in Iowa, Newton, you
can’t get a hotel. Good luck anywhere around the area.
Some people ahead of time must have known about this so
already secured all the hotels, which is a good thing.”

Iowa Weekend details

thepitwindow.blog/2022/03/07/hyvee-indycar-weekend-adds-huge-entertainment-package/

I asked Denker if the type of programming planned for Iowa could be a model for other ovals to help draw more fans.
“That’s a real good question because we’re
already thinking about ’23 and ’24 in terms of what we’re
going to do.
We want to have a variety, always have a variety, as long
as we own this series, of the races we have today, the
ovals, short ovals, long ovals, road courses, street courses.
That obviously shows the competitiveness and the world
class nature of our drivers more than any other series in
the world.
The model we’re creating in the urban markets as you’ve
seen in Nashville, Detroit next year, the streets of Detroit.
Whole different model than we have on Belle Isle.
Patterned a lot of what will be done in Nashville, St. Pete,
other markets.
As we get to these markets like Iowa, you need to create
that event. Without the attachment to an urban market,
you have to have the event to draw you in. You’re spot on
in terms of what this model will look like. We want to take it
and apply it to other tracks we go to in the future.
You also see unique tracks like Road America, it lives on
its own. For these other tracks that are not attached to an
urban market, don’t have their own iconic nature, as
Graham said you have to circle it with other things going on
other than what’s going on on the racetrack, and that’s our
model for the future.”

Edeker announced that HyVee will also be a sponsor of the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville as part of their marketing strategy. The Iowa based retailer chose Indycar because Iowans are big fans of the sport.

“I think it fits with our initiatives, with what we want to get
accomplished. I think that it’s a sport that it’s accessible to
us and it’s local.
If you look at the state of Iowa, I don’t have the current
numbers, but several years ago when I was over at
marketing I looked at open-wheel racing in the state of
Iowa. Per capita, Iowa had the largest number of
open-wheel racing fans in the United States.
You look at the Midwest and the dirt tracks, the open-wheel
races that happen all across. I think it just fits the fan base.
Most of those fans, they turn to Indy, they turn to
NASCAR, they also turn to Indy as an open-wheel racing
fan. I think that’s part of what appealed to us.
I agree, I just look at some of the things in talking with Bud
and Roger, some of the strategies they have that they’re
working on. I believe you’re going to see INDYCAR start
driving. You’re seeing us also invest in our driver. We
came out with a dozen TV spots that we’re going to be
using from now until September that are labeled ‘You Don’t
Know Jack.’ Jack (Harvey) is our spokesman. “

HyVee is also an associate sponsor on the cars of Graham Rahal and Christian Lundgaard.

Rahal commented on the racing at Iowa. Some have expressed concerns about both races scheduled for daytime. many fans hoped for a night race. Rahal said,

“The thing is both are good races because it’s such a
demanding track, whether it’s hot on the surface or a night
race where it cools down. I mean, certainly the night race I
would say broadens the amount of competitive cars,
meaning at Iowa you’re going to have the talent pool
deeper and deeper. You’ll have 10 to 15 cars that are
battling at the end. At night that may expand by 20% or
something like that.
The truth is with the variety of lanes, you have three lanes,
turn three and four is a two-lane racetrack, but you have
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cars all over the place, guys on new tires, guys on old tires
that want to go home, forget about their day. That’s
common at Iowa. I think that will continue.
I don’t think it really matters day or night, frankly.”