Beloved State Fair Speedway shutting down after more than 100 years

Speedway promoters feel blindsided by decision

By Orko Manna | omanna@weareiowa.com

Published 09/28 2016 10:38PM

Updated 09/28 2016 10:38PM

DES MOINES - The Iowa State Fair Speedway has been hosting big races for more than 100 years. But now, the racetrack is shutting down, and there's a lot of uncertainty about whether it'll ever be back.

The Iowa State Fair SPeedway has held a place in racing fans' hearts for quite some time, and now that it is closing, Speedway officials feel blinded by the decision.

"Well, we're just sick about it, you know, it's a passion for us," said Speedway promoter Tony Moro.
 
Moro recently found out during a private meeting with State Fair CEO Gary Slater that the racetrack would be shutting down. And Moro is more than upset.
 
"It's been pretty obvious that they've been trying to get rid of racing there for many years," Moro said. "For some reason, the fair has stopped being about tradition in my opinion."
 
Moro says racing is a huge tradition, and that officials are not keeping their promise to make the State Fair for everyone.
 
"Now, it's something for everyone but race fans, because there is no racing there, and it's been like that for two
 previous years," Moro said. "And I think that's where they started with this program, so they just pushed it on to the next level."
 
But State Fair officials say they're closing it down because of a major construction plan over the next three years, to revamp the speedway, as well as the Grandstand and the Midway.
 
"I think it's probably disappointing to them to take a pause in any activity you have, but we're asking people to 
kind of bare with us, and hopefully this project will bring that back to the fairgrounds," said Mindy Williamson, the Iowa State Fair Marketing Director.
 
Williamson says they hope to open the new racetrack by 2019.
 
"We're just taking a short break, and we're making their area even bigger and better," Williamson said.
 
But Moro is not certain he will be around when - and if - that time comes.
 
"You shut a business down for three years, five years, you can't redo it, you know, you lose all your
 momentum, you just as well stay gone, and that's probably what we will do," Moro said.
 
Although speedway promoters are not sure if they will return once construction is finished, State Fair officials say they really hope they do. Officials also said they do hope the racetrack is ready to go in two to three years.

 

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.