How Fast Do Indy Cars Go At Iowa Speedway? [Facts!]

The Iowa Speedway is the oldest racetrack in the United States and is located in the Midwest. The track was first opened in 1915 and has been hosting some of the most important races in NASCAR history, including the very first Indianapolis 500 that was held there in 1916. Since then, the track has been the site of memorable moments for drivers around the world. With over 100 years under its belt, you’d think that the track would have evolved quite a bit. You’d be wrong. While there are a few differences here and there, the basic track layout and surface of the track haven’t changed much since its early days.

Many people might think that with so much history, the track would be slow. Far from it. While there are definitely some twists and turns on the track that slow down older models, the track still speeds up just as quickly as it slows down. In fact, many professional drivers have managed to put in some very speedy laps there, including Al Turner and his legendary Trans Am cars, which were renowned for going very fast at the track. In the Trans Am race that is held there often, the cars will reach speeds in excess of 200 mph (mph)! So, while it might be hard to believe, the Iowa Speedway is still one of the fastest tracks in the world. It really is remarkable.

The Track Layout

When most people think of Iowa, they think about that iconic flat turn that comes before the big straightaway at the end. That’s exactly what the track is, but it’s not the only part of the track that’s memorable. After you’ve taken that first turn onto the back straight, you’re immediately confronted with a very long, flat straightaway, which extends for several miles. Even with modern traction control and ABS, the straightaway is famous for being one of the most frightening stretches of concrete in all of motorsport. To this day, many drivers will be in awe of what it’s like to drive fast on that long straightaway.

On the opposite side of the track is the esses, a series of small, quick corners that take you onto another straightaway. While not quite as long as the back straight, the esses are still a source of fear for even the most seasoned drivers. There is also a very long back stretch between turns three and four that is a favorite spot for drivers to cruise and get some air. The corner workers there wear white shirts with orange polka dots because they literally “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” on the corners. They work extremely hard, and it shows; if you see a lot of cars that are not even running, you’re either on the right track or the wrong one!

The Racing Surface

The racing surface at the Iowa Speedway is one of the most famous elements of the track. Opinions vary on what kind of surface it is, but it’s most often referred to as the “dirt track,” so named because in its early days, the track was built around a farming community and most people were driving on dirt rather than asphalt or concrete. Even now, when the track is resurfaced, a lot of dirt is left behind, so it stays rough and jagged and offers all the grip a driver could want.

A few years back, the owners of the track decided to paint concrete blocks on the inside of the track to make it safer for the drivers. Even with the concrete blocks, the track still has that rough, natural surface, so with all that grip and no traction control to slow you down, it’s no wonder that so many accidents happen there. The track is dangerous, and that’s putting it nicely.

The Light At Night

Another iconic element of the track is the way the turns and straightaways are characterized by an eerie orange glow at night. While this might just be a product of the season and the setting sun, it definitely adds to the ambiance of the track. You know, before you’ve even sat down at the track as night falls, you can already tell that you’re in for a terrifyingly good time. This is especially true if you have an older model of car because even then, the speed limit there is much more conducive to a high-speed cruise rather than a race. Still, at night, the track is a perfect, glowing ribbon that stretches for miles in either direction.

While a lot about the track has changed over the years, it has stayed largely the same in terms of the overall atmosphere. While a new lap record was set at the track a few days before we went to press, the overall feel in the paddock is one of nostalgia, joy, and excitement for what’s about to happen on the track that night.

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