Peterson settles into new role as Iowa Speedway President

Jun. 1—Despite rumors of its demise back in late 2020, Iowa Speedway is alive and well almost four years later.

And with the addition of the NASCAR Cup Series to the schedule, the 7/8-mile track in Newton has a new president.

Eric Peterson takes over that role and he brings with him more than a decade of experience with NASCAR.

"There was an opportunity at the end of 2023 to come up here and work with the team and lead the track. I took that opportunity and haven't looked back," Peterson said during a NASCAR testing session at the track last week. "This has been an amazing experience."

Eric Peterson

The track has not had a president for a few years. It took Hy-Vee and the IndyCar Series to bring Iowa Speedway back to life.

But now that NASCAR's top series is coming later this month, a new president was a must for the organization.

"We haven't had a president since 2020. We have just overseen things from Kansas," Peterson said. "NASCAR is another level of racing. And in order to make sure we are delivering for the sponsors, competition and all of our fans, we needed to have a president here and a team built out as well. I've been fortunate to be able to do that."

Peterson has been with NASCAR for the past 14 years. His main role was in cooperate sales at Kansas Speedway, but he's been involved with partnerships, hospitality, tickets and consumer facing for Kansas, Phoenix, Auto Club and the Clash out in Los Angeles.

The job at Iowa Speedway goes way beyond just hosting a few race weekends in June and July. It's a 12-month gig that Peterson is excited to be a part of. He will oversee the day-to-day management of the facility.

"I have a really good team and as long as the weather holds out, we are hosting something here," Peterson said. "We stay busy out here."

Iowa Speedway will host the NASCAR Cup Series Iowa Corn 350 on June 16. The NASCAR Xfinity Series Hy-Vee Perks 250 is June 15 and the ARCA Menards Series Atlas 150 is June 14. The IndyCar Series Race Weekend is in July.

Outside of that, the track also hosts small get togethers in the Newton Club, driving schools and track rentals.

The NASCAR Cup Series was announced in September. Peterson said activities outside the racetrack will include a Midwest Display, the NASCAR Experience and a Kids' Zone.

"The Midwest Display is where our partners will be set up," Peterson said. "Iowa Corn and Hy-Vee will have a big presence, too.

"We have sold out the races on (June 15) and (June 16) and are really close to selling out the ARCA Menards Series race, too. That's fantastic for a stand-alone event."

While it took a little bit of time from 2020 to when the IndyCar Series returned to the track, Iowa Speedway was never really in jeopardy of closing.

"The bones and structure of this place has always been great. The racing has always been good because it's unique," Peterson said. "COVID certainly hurt things, but we knew something big had to happen at this track. I felt that just coming back and forth the past four years while in Kansas. We've brought the track back to where the fans expect it to be from a competition standpoint."

No one knows for sure why it took NASCAR so long to bring a Cup Series race to Iowa Speedway. The logistics are not as easy as it seems though.

The addition of the race this summer was part of a string of bold swings by NASCAR recently.

"We are adding new tracks to the schedule for the fans, and this is a product of that," Peterson said. "We are looking at where racing is popular and where are our fans are, and NASCAR took a chance and put a race here. It sold out in a couple of days so that shows how much we appreciate Iowa and how many racing fans are here."

Peterson, who is an avid guitarist and cyclist, is originally from Kansas so the transition was pretty easy for him and his family, which includes his wife Ashley and their two young girls. The family of four relocated to Ankeny in February.