(Iowa Speedway photo)

The Iowa State Patrol estimates at least five-thousand vehicles are making their way to the parking lots at the Iowa Speedway today, the first wave of traffic heading to Newton for IndyCar racing on Saturday and Sunday.

The Patrol predicts daily crowds of 35,000 at the Speedway on both Saturday and Sunday, with nearly 18,000 vehicles on Interstate-80 at the Newton exit both days. Troopers are encouraging people to leave early to avoid heavy congestion.

Newton Mayor Mike Hansen says keeping IndyCar Racing at the Iowa Speedway through 2024 wasn’t easy. “This was a 14-month negotiation between the City, the State, IndyCar Series, Penske Corp. and Hy-Vee,” he said.

Hy-Vee, the lead sponsor of the event, says a limited number of tickets are still available. The City of Newton has dedicated $33,000 this year and again in 2023 and 2024 to support IndyCar racing and other events at the Speedway, “so this is a direct contribution for tourism,” the mayor says.

The NTT IndyCar Series races will be held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. A pre-race concert Saturday with Tim McGraw begins at 1 p.m. and the race will start at 3 p.m. Saturday’s post-race concert with Florida Georgia Line is scheduled to start at 5:30. Sunday’s schedule includes a concert with Gwen Stefani just after noon with the race starting at 2:30 p.m. The closing event of the weekend is a concert with Blake Shelton.

(By Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)