Get your NASCAR racing experience at the Iowa Speedway

Get your NASCAR experience at the Iowa Speedway

“There’s really no way to prepare you for what happens on the first corner.”

That was the most frequent response when I interviewed family members who participated in the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The experience lets fans choose to drive or ride along in a NASCAR on a professional track.

Disclaimer: This post was NOT sponsored by NASCAR, the Iowa Speedway did not sponsor it, and certainly wasn’t sponsored by Rusty Wallace. Instead, it was sponsored by good ‘ole Grandpa.

Address: Iowa Speedway, 3333 Rusty Wallace Dr, Newton, IA 50208


GRANDPA: Four-lap drive experience

Why did you select the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience at Iowa Speedway? what was your thinking behind it as a family event?

I’m a NASCAR fan and I wanted to try the drive experience. I know that some of my children/spouses and grandchildren are NASCAR fans also – but some of them are not. But it doesn’t really matter if you’re a NASCAR fan or not. I wanted to stop buying standard presents for the grandkids – and instead wanted to provide them with experiences. Instead of a regular present, this would be something they would remember – and they would remember experiencing it with their family.

Was it expensive?

I watched the racingwithrusty website for discounts and also found some discounts on Groupon. Again, for me, this was a move to replace traditional presents and move towards providing experiences that we could enjoy together. With discounts, I think we paid around $90 per person for the ride along and more for the driver experience.

What was the four lap driving experience like? Talk us through what happened.

It starts with classroom instruction time, where professional drivers go over safety, details on the car, expectations for driving – and, of course, a strong reminder that if you damage the car, you pay for it. Potentially up to $200,000.

Following the instruction, you head out to the track to gear up with suits and helmets. After strapping you into the car, you’re off and heading down the track on your own.

What are the most memorable things about the four lap driving experience?

  • I remember how tight it was in the harness – they have secured to the car in a fashion that you haven’t seen before.
  • Bouncy – the race car has a very stiff suspension, so you’ll feel everything as you go around the track and you bounce around more than you imagine.
  • You can’t see who is behind you or around you, because you are strapped in so tight, your vision is really limited
  • They provide you with a one-way intercom in your helmet – so they are talking to you as you drive around the track, helping to guide you. However, I wasn’t always able to hear them clearly.

Do you have any idea how fast you were going?

No. I was out there for the overall experience, not for a race. Especially after they continued to remind you that you would be purchasing the car if there was damage. Let’s just say that we all got 4 laps, but I got to spend more time behind the wheel and enjoy the ride.

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

TEENAGE GIRL: Side by Side Ride Along

Why did you choose the side-by-side ride-along?

I didn’t actually choose the side by side, it just happened. A man in front of me was obsessed with making sure that he drove a very specific car, so he told me to go in front of him in the line. Not a big deal to me, so I traded places with him. When my turn came up, they explained that the woman in front of me wanted a side-by-side experience and they asked if I would be in the other car for the side-by-side. They said they wouldn’t charge me more. It didn’t matter to me, so I went ahead and joined them and I was glad I did.

During the side by side, there are two cars that are inches apart, going about 130 to 140mph. After a lap, the cars trade spots (inside vs outside lane). When my car was on the inside lane and I’m sitting in the passenger seat – I’m literally inches from another car traveling at the same speed. It’s an incredible feeling and well, sort of scary, as you’re putting a lot of trust into a driver that you don’t know.

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

What do you remember most about the side by side ride along?

  • I remember being nervous while getting suited up. I was worried if this was going to make me sick – as I had to leave this event to get ready for the homecoming dance that night. In the end, I didn’t get sick, but I do remember worrying about it.
  • Accelerating out of the pit reminds me of riding some rollercoasters – both the acceleration and motion (the car is not as smooth as you might imagine).
  • I also remember how loud it was with the engine rumbling, the entire car shaking as it accelerated out of the pit.

Would you do it again?

Yes, I would do it again.

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.


What do you remember most about the ride along?

  • It showed me how wrong I was – thinking that it might be easy to drive a race car. Handling the car was a constant effort for the driver.
  • There is no such thing as an out-of-shape NASCAR driver – it takes incredible focus and stamina to control the car. I simply can’t imagine how difficult that is when there’s an actual race taking place.
  • I remember it being very loud and very hot.
  • The vibrations were also intense. My only comparison would be a live concert – I like going to live concerts because you can feel the music. I can imagine that this is why some people love to attend NASCAR events, I’m guessing you feel the vibrations of the cars racing around the track.
  • There’s nothing that can prepare you for the first corner. You’re tightly strapped into the car with limited vision and the engine rumbling. Once you leave the pit, you’re thrown to the back of the seat and there’s nothing you can do about it. Then the driver yanks the wheel to left and suddenly you’re thrown to the side. It’s a complete rush.

Would you do it again?

  • Yes, absolutely. I would do it again.

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

MOM: Four lap Ride Along

What do you remember most about the ride along?

  • I was super excited and looking forward to this. In fact, when I got in the car, I told him, “Go as fast as you can”
  • When the others said that it was bumpy, I agree. My best comparison is this: it’s like riding a wooden roller coaster. Constant bumps and movement.
  • The first corner is very intense, the amount of force was a surprise.
  • You’ll see that the driver is almost fighting the steering wheel – it’s constant work to move or even keep the car in the proper position.

Would you do it again?

Yes, I would do the ride-along again, but I would also be interested in the driver experience.

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

DAD: Four lap driving experience

What do you remember most about four lap driving experience?

  • Before we drove, they had us in a classroom with some instructions. One of the things they requested – go out of the pit fast and then yank the wheel to the left. They didn’t want you to leave the pit scared. So I did what they asked, but I had the damnest time getting the car to turn the amount needed. They were giving me an earful in the one-way intercom, but my only option was to slow down to get better control. Things were better on later laps, but the intercom either wasn’t working or they were done talking to me.
  • This experience gives you an incredible respect for drivers, it’s a lot of work.
  • There’s no practice in this scenario. They warn you that you will be responsible for car and your own health care – but yet you jump right into the car and take on the first corner.
  • I’ve experienced strong G forces before, as I served in the military (they catapulted me off the deck of a carrier), but taking on the first corner is still very intense.
  • You are so incredibly secure in the car that your vision is not just limited, it’s absolutely restricted. Keep in mind, this is nothing like driving a regular car, you can’t tell who is behind you or around.

Would you do it again?

I’m a huge NASCAR fan. I attend numerous races each year and have season tickets for the track in Phoenix. With that said, I have no desire to be a race car driver. It was certainly an experience that I wanted to try, but I would not do it again. However, if they ever have a mechanic/pit crew experience, I’m signing up.

A view inside the NASCAR experience

Rusty Wallace Racing experience at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

MOM: Four lap Ride Along

What do you remember most about the ride along?

  • It was fast and it was noisy.
  • I remember thinking – are we almost done? I was worried about getting sick, even though it never happened.
  • My first thoughts when we started…. there’s a strange guy driving the car and I’m supposed to trust him, as I can barely see anything around me.

Would you do it again?

Maybe, but I think I would prefer to drive instead.

Drivers approach one another for the side-by-side experience at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Drivers approach one another for the side-by-side experience at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

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