The Price of Success

Has Iowa and Indycar gone too far? The Hy-Vee Indycar Weekend in 2022 at Iowa Speedway was a smashing success. There were big crowds, two Indycar races, and four concerts with popular acts. For 2023, the series and sponsor looked to improve the show, but has the average fan been priced out?

I was one of many fans who gasped at the renewal prices. In my case, my single ticket, upper grandstand, went from a weekend price of $156 to $348. I felt last year’s price was reasonable. Each day’s ticket was actually less than my seat for the Indianapolis 500.

Price jumps I have heard from other fans:

2022-$200 2023-$700

2022-$335 2023-$796

2022-$250 2023- $800

Last year’s $50 flex ticket is now $100 and kids under 15 years old must have a ticket. Last year kids were free with an adult ticket purchase.

The renewal prices. Prices listed are single day tickets.

While these prices are nowhere close to what a ticket to an F1 race cost, I find a jump of more than 200% unconscionable.

My understanding is the fees the 2023 performers charge are the reason. The promoters should have taken that into consideration before booking these acts. I don’t go for the concerts; none of them interested me last year, nor do they interest me this coming season.

Indycar and Hy-Vee need to make a decision- are they putting on a race with concerts or are they putting on a music festival with races as intermission? If it’s the latter, I’m not interested. Indycar is straying from its mission to provide racing entertainment.

Bud Denker of Penske Corporation talks about what a great value the event is. I guess it depends on what you value. I love Iowa Speedway and the racing there, but I don’t think it is worth $174 a day.

When he 20 event was announced, I thought that this package would be the future for ovals. The model may be, but if the series is going to price out the average fun, will it matter?

Iowa Race Weekend Concerts Set

From Hy-Vee and Iowa Speedway:

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (November 16, 2022) —Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend returns to Iowa Speedway, July 21-23, 2023, and today, Hy-Vee, Inc. announced the impressive lineup of musical acts that will be featured before and after each NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Saturday and Sunday of event weekend. 

Building off the momentum of a highly successful Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend in 2022 that brought capacity crowds to Iowa Speedway for a turbocharged blend of world-class live music and thrilling racing, Hy-Vee will shift into high gear in 2023 with another powerful concert lineup accompanying the only doubleheader weekend on next year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule.  

Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney will perform on Saturday of race weekend while Zac Brown Band and Ed Sheeran will rock the Hy-Vee Stage on Sunday. Ticket renewals for the 2023 Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend will begin on Monday, November 21 and fans can register now for an exclusive pre-sale opportunity at https://www.hyveeindycarweekend.com/ before tickets go on sale to everyone on Monday, December 5. 

“When we first agreed to hold the event in Newton (Iowa), we knew we wanted to make it the best and biggest event on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee’s Chairman of the Board and Executive Director. “We made the weekend quite the spectacle in 2022; however, we knew we could top our efforts when planning for 2023, and I think our lineup of concerts shows just that. This is an event you won’t want to miss.” 

With four nationally acclaimed acts over two days, the 2023 Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend concert lineup features some of the biggest names in country and pop music.  

Concert Prior to the Saturday, July 22 INDYCAR Race: 

Carrie Underwood is a multi-media superstar, with achievements in music, television, film, and as a New York Times bestselling author and successful entrepreneur. She has sold more than 66 million records worldwide, recorded 28 No. 1 singles (14 of which she co-wrote), has seven albums that are certified Multi-Platinum or Platinum by the RIAA, and is the most-awarded female country artist for digital singles in RIAA history.  Underwood has won over 100 major awards including 8 GRAMMY® Awards, 16 ACM Awards including three for Entertainer of the Year, 25 CMT Music Awards where she continues to hold the record for the most award wins ever by any artist, 7 CMA Awards, and 17 American Music Awards.  She was the first artist to perform at the new Resorts World Theatre, where her ongoingREFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency, began with sold-out runs in December 2021 and throughout Spring 2022, and will continue in 2023.  Her new album, Denim & Rhinestones, which she co-produced, is out now, and her 43-city U.S. arena tour, THE DENIM & RHINESTONES TOUR, kicked off October 15 with dates throughout Fall 2022 and Spring 2023.  

Concert Following the Saturday, July 22 INDYCAR Race: 

Kenny Chesney has recorded more than 20 albums and has produced more than 40 Top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, 32 of which have reached No. 1. Many of these hits have also charted within the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making him one of the most successful crossover country artists ever. He has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. Chesney has received 12 Country Music Association Awards (including winning the Entertainer of the Year honor four times) and 11 Academy of Country Music Awards (including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from 2005 to 2008) as well as six GRAMMY® Award nominations. He is one of the most popular touring acts in country music history, regularly selling out the venues in which he performs. 

Concert Prior to the Sunday, July 23 INDYCAR Race:

Zac Brown Band has won 3 GRAMMY® Awards, sold more than 30 million singles and 9 million albums, had over 10 billion catalog streams, and achieved 16 No. 1 radio singles. Since 2009, Zac Brown Band has earned 55 award nominations from the GRAMMY® Awards, Academy of Country Music, American Music Awards, Country Music Association and Country Music Television. Most recently, Zac Brown Band released “The Comeback Deluxe” album with songs featuring Cody Johnson, Blake Shelton, James Taylor and Jimmy Buffet among others. On November 19, they will serve as house band for the legendary Dolly Parton during her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

Concert Following the Sunday, July 23 INDYCAR Race:


Ed Sheeran
 is an era-defining artist.  With five multiplatinum, critically acclaimed albums under his belt, the British singer-songwriter has amassed more than 60 billion streams and sold over 50 million albums, globally to date, making him one of the world’s biggest-selling artist. An unparalleled live performer, Sheeran’s two-year ÷ world tour made history becoming the most-attended and highest-grossing tour of all time when it wrapped in 2019.  Late last year, Sheeran released ‘=’, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and marked his fourth consecutive full-length release to top the chart after its first week. Sheeran is currently in the midst of his worldwide “+ – = ÷ x Tour,” hitting North America for the first time in nearly 5 years, including a stop at the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend. 

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 60-minute performances while each post-race concert will include a 90-minute show. Exclusive trackside concert viewing passes will be available for purchase once 2023 tickets go on sale in December.

“Thanks to the support of Hy-Vee and their commitment to making Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend one of the biggest annual events in Iowa, we truly delivered a memorable experience for our fans this summer at Iowa Speedway,” said Bud Denker, President of Penske Corporation. “With four incredible concerts featuring some of the most popular acts in music today, Hy-Vee is raising the bar even higher in 2023. Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend is going to bring non-stop excitement on and off the track July 21 through July 23.” 

More than 80,000 people attended Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend in 2022 as INDYCAR made its return to Iowa Speedway this summer. With the star-studded concert lineup and festival atmosphere adding to the high-speed action on track including two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races – both televised live on NBC – and the next generation of stars competing in the INDY NXT by Firestone Series, event organizers are looking to surpass those totals with sellout crowds at Iowa Speedway in 2023.  

To register for a pre-sale opportunity to purchase 2023 Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend tickets and to learn more about the event, visit https://www.hyveeindycarweekend.com/

Iowa Wrap Up: This is How You Oval

Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Before last weekend, Indycar at Iowa Speedway was some of the best racing no one came to watch. The big crowds in the early years had dwindled to a bout a third of capacity, typical of oval attendance everywhere. Iowa did not have a slot on the 2021 schedule.

Thanks to Hy-Vee, Indycar returned to Iowa, big time. The activation and programing drew two sellout crowds. The event will be back in 2023 and 2024.

In March, details about the weekend were laid out by Bud Denker of Penske Entertainment and Randy Edeker, CEO of Hy-Vee. I posted about it in this story.

From March-\https://thepitwindow.blog/2022/03/08/a-way-forward-for-ovals/

Everything they said would happen did happen. The track and grounds looked cleaner than I had ever seen t. The turn one and four suites gave the track a classy look.

Sponsor Activation

In addition to the copious Hy-Vee signage, the company had a mobile store at the track with some grocery items and some camping supplies. If a desired item wasn’t stocked, Hy-Vee would deliver it to the fan at the track.

I visited a couple of their stores after i left the track. There were at least a half dozen cut outs of Jack Harvey’s Hy-Vee sponsored car displayed throughout the store. In addition signs with the logos of the two races hung prominently near the entrances and exits and above shelves. A racing related merchandise displayed greeted shoppers as they came in.

I don’t know the exact amount of money Hy-Vee put into this weekend, but it was substantial. I heard they weren’t interested in Return on Investment, but I think they got their money’s worth.

Indycar could use a couple more sponsors putting this kind of effort into the series.

Fans

While both days were sold out, the spectators in my area were different each day. I talked to several people Sunday who had never been to a race of any kind before. I’m positive some of them will return next year.

I have also heard some fans who did not come this year are making plans to some in 2023.

Were the concerts more of an attraction than the races? Perhaps in some cases, but the grandstands were filled for the races.

One of my concerns was that the crowd would filter out after the first concert and return for the post race performance. I was wrong.

This is the first oval race outside of IMS that I have been to, and I’ve been to a couple of them, where the atmosphere had the same buzz as the 500.

Keeping the Plan Going

The series now has a template for a successful oval weekend. Will ovals not currently on the schedule now have an interest in bringing Indycar to their venue? Will a certain track in the south that had an Indycar race this spring take notice or do they not care whether the series returns?

Can Iowa Speedway and Hy-Vee sustain this dame level of energy for the next two years? As great a success as last weekend was, the real proof comes in years two and three.

I could see this event becoming the Hy-Vee company picnic, similar to what Honda does at Mid Ohio for their employees.

I would very much like for the Saturday race to take place at night, but I’m not sure now if that would help attendance without one more support race.

Race Day, Part Deux

Today’s Schedule:

SUNDAY, JULY 24
9:00 am Gates Open
12:10 pm – 1:00 pm Gwen Stefani Concert
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google (300 laps) NBC, Peacock
5:15 pm – 6:45 pm Blake Shelton Concert

The weather will be much more pleasant today, with highs in the low to mid 80s.

Staring Lineup:

*Will confirm later, but Colton Herta is expected to receive a nibne place grid penalty for an engine change.

Yesterday’s crowd was announced as a sellout-38,000. As of last night, Indycar said that there were 800 seats available for today’s race. Wheteher they sell out or not, this weekend has been a smash success.

Pato O’Ward said yesterday that he used up his tires trying to get to Josef Newegarden. The team will look for a solution for today’s race.

“We were just extremely extremely loose. We need to we need to see what we can do better for tomorrow and not have that because it took a lot of pitstops to get it into a window where we can actually attack rather than just being a little bit of a passenger but yeah, really happy with our day,” O’Ward said.

Two of O’Ward’s Indycar wins came in the second race of a double header.

Results from Race 1

Notes

Rinus VeeKay had a sneaky fourth place finish Saturday. He started eighth and just quietly drove to fourth. VeeKay has two fourth place finishes in his last three races.

His teammate. Conor Daly, started third, but ended the day 19th. I think both Carpenter cars will have good days today.

Newgarden could complete the fourth double header sweep in Indycar history. The last time it happened was Detroit 2017 when Graham Rahal won both Detroit races.

We could see the same drivers on the podium today, but in a different order.

Quick Thoughts- Iowa HyVeeDeals 250

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Another Iowa race, another Josef Newgarden victory. Newgarden dominates this track like Scott Dixon used to rule Mid Ohio.

Chevy has a tremendous advanatge over Honda this year. Several Honda cars challenged Newgarden, but did not have enough to make a serious run. Chevys finished 1,,2,3,4 today.

Colton Herta’s oval misfortunes continued. After his first early pit stop it was fun watching him carve his way through the field. Herta looked like he would be a contender.

What a drive for Jimmie Johnson. He spun on lap 14, recovered to lead 19 laps, and spent much of the race in the top 10 before finishing 11th.

The standings have tightened up. Mafrcus Ericsson’s lead has shrunk to 15 pointsover Newgarden and 22 over Will Power.

Pato O’Ward earned his second runner up spot on an oval. it was a much needed result for O’Ward, who had an average finish of 20th in his past three races.

Overall, it was a good race with many battles for position.

Newgarden, Power, and O’Ward all noted how quickly the tires went away today. They expect the same situation tomorrow.

Some Numbers

Newgarden has won four races in 2022. This is the first year a driver has four wins since 2020. Today’s win was also his fourth at Iowa. His first win here came when he drove for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Indycar announced there were 722 passes on track today, 372 for position.

Only five cars finished on the lead lap.

Today’s race marked the sixth time this year that the driver starting second has won. The pole winner has not won since the first race of the year in St. Pete.

I will have a follow up story with quotes and final results up later. Thanks for following along. Another race tomorrow.

Quick Thoughts- HyVee Deals.Com 250

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Another Iowa race, another Josef Newgarden victory. Newgarden dominates this track like Scott Dixon used to rule Mid Ohio.

Chevy has a tremendous advanatge over Honda this year. Several Honda cars challenged Newgarden, but did not have enough to make a serious run. Chevys finished 1,,2,3,4 today.

Colton Herta’s oval misfortunes continued. After his first early pit stop it was fun watching him carve his way through the field. Herta looked like he would be a contender.

What a drive for Jimmie Johnson. He spun on lap 14, recovered to lead 19 laps, and spent much of the race in the top 10 before finishing 11th.

The standings have tightened up. Mafrcus Ericsson’s lead has shrunk to 15 pointsover Newgarden and 22 over Will Power.

Pato O’Ward earned his second runner up spot on an oval. it was a much needed result for O’Ward, who had an average finish of 20th in his past three races.

Overall, it was a good race with many battles for position.

Newgarden, Power, and O’Ward all noted how quickly the tires went away today. They expect the same situation tomorrow.

Some Numbers

Newgarden has won four races in 2022. This is the first year a driver has four wins since 2020. Today’s win was also his fourth at Iowa. His first win here came when he drove for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Indycar announced there were 722 passes on track today, 372 for position.

Only five cars finished on the lead lap.

Today’s race marked the sixth time this year that the driver starting second has won. The pole winner has not won since the first race of the year in St. Pete.

I will have a follow up story with quotes and final results up later. Thanks for following along. Another race tomorrow.

Double Pole for Power; Double Penske Front Row Lockout

And then there was one. Will Power moved moved within one career pole of Mario Andretti by grabbing poles for both races at Iowa Speedway. Josef Newgarden, Power’s team Penske teammmate, will start second in both races. Chevy powered cars will start each race in five of the first six positions. Power now has won five poles at Iowa.

The last pole sweep by a driver was by Simon Pagenaud in Detroit in 2016.

Conor Daly had held both provisional poles through 10 qualifiers until Newgarden firmly beat his times. Power then took to then track and turned the only laps int the 178 mph range to grab his 65th and 66th career poles. Power now has three poles for the season.

Colton Herta picked up nearly three miles an hour on his second lap to slot third for race 2. However, his team will change his engine after today’s race and he will be moved to 12th for Sunday’s race.

Rinus VeeKay had the most consistent run. His first lap was 176.626 mph and his second lap was 176.625 mph.

Will Power

Power talks about his double pole.

“Yeah, it was It was messy. It was skipping up the track and I was surprised those the quickest like but always wheeling it as much as I could. I thought it was leaving nothing on the table. So again, it was not there was a 17 (second lap) to encounter .”

Starting position is key.

” lt felt like you had to start in the top 10 To have a good race because it was seemed a little difficult to pass .. cars can follow along so you can make sense. Positions are in basic decision up with our strategy, but leading is obviously easier. You can queue up people when they need to get a bit of a lead up early they’ll come down to laps you know that was so yeah, good spot to be in.”

On catching points leader Marcus Ericsson:

“I’m hoping that this is a good weekend for us to catch Marcus. Because he’s very tough. He’s, he’s, you know, he’s not the best qualified but he’s probably the best racer in series in my opinion. I might have just over the years watching him race. He’s one of the toughest guys like he’s very, very good at starting back there and making his way all the way to the front. So yeah, he’s going to try and get some points on it.”

Saturday at Iowa- Qualifying Calls May Affect Race

Toiday’s Schedule: All Times Central

8:00 am Gates Open
8:30 am – 9:00 am Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying
9:30 am – 10:45 am NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying for Races 1 and 2 Peacock
11:15 am – 12:20 pm Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Race (100 laps) Peacock
1:00 pm – 1:50 pm Tim McGraw Concert
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES HyVeeDeals.com 250
presented by DoorDash (250 laps) Green flag at 3:30 NBC, Peacock
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Florida Georgia Line Concert

If qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is the most pressure in qualifying in Indycar, Iowa qualifying has to be the second most pressure. Drivers are qualifying for both races. The first lap is for today’s race, the second lap is the time for tomorrow’s race. Cars must race today as they qualify.

The session to set the lineup will be in cooler conditions that Friday’s practice, while the race will be run in similar conditions to Friday.

Just 0.7225 seconds separated the fastest car from the slowest in practice. One smallbobble can mean a big penalty in the starting lineup.

The race could be Team Penske versus Conor Daly and Pato O’Ward. Daly exuded confidence all day Friday. O’Ward is due for a reversal of his recent misfortunes. WE could be in for a really good race today.

Notes

The qualifying order may help the early runners as the temperatures rise during the session. Daly goes out in the middle of the round, which might help him.

If you are at the track, hydrate and take shade breaks. HyVee sells a very nice Indycar cooling towel.

One thing that struck me yesterday was the amount of advertising on the track’s outside wall, I have never seen so much at an Indycar track. Parts of the walls look like an NHL rink’s boards.

Qualifying order: