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Money Troubles KO Iowa Race Track

By James Schweiker  (transcribed by Ted Wells from Competition Press August 14, 1965, Thanks Ted!)

INDIANOLA, Iowa - The first attempt to introduce big time sports car racing to Iowa quietly fizzled recently when Greenwood Roadway cancelled its second USRRC because of financial problems.

The announcement came only two weeks before the July 17-18 USRRC races were scheduled. Track owners explained that they could not raise the necessary money to stage the race.

Norman Ackerman, president of Greenwood Roadway, Inc., said it cost more than $25,000 to stage the race and “the track is not in the financial position to gamble that much again.”

Greenwood - a 3.2 mi., 14-curve asphalt track in the rolling countryside of southern Iowa - was built in 1963 at a cost of more than $300,000. It was located 28-mi. south of Des Moines, the capital city, and was acclaimed as one of the finest road racing tracks in the nation.

But however interesting Greenwood may have been to enthusiasts and drivers, it was a failure from the spectators’ viewpoint.

It was usually hot and dusty and was impossible to see more than a few hundred yards of the track from any one place. Also, much of the track was virtually inaccessible for the public.

Ackerman said, “in Iowa, people are used to sitting and they’re reluctant to change.”

A USAC stock car race was held at Greenwood in June and drew only a few thousand paid attendance despite widespread publicity and a field of some of the nation’s top drivers. Last year’s USRRC, which included Jim Hall’s Chaparral team, drew only 8,500.

By way of comparison, a gate of 8,500 at an IMCA stock car race in Des Moines is considered poor.

Greenwood’s future?

“Well, it hasn’t folded completely,” Ackerman said, “but it has some problems.”

Although there will be no more sports car races this year, Ackerman said the track has been leased for a national motorcycle race in August and a national go kart race later in the fall.

Ackerman said he felt much of the blame for Greenwood’s collapse could be laid to local sports car groups and the condition of the track itself.

Highly critical of the local sports car groups, the Des Moines Valley and Iowa Valley Assns., Ackerman said they “are unable to comprehend the cost of putting on a race just for their benefit. Continued efforts to gain their understanding and co-operation have been to no avail,” he said. “What it boiled down to is that we were providing a place for their hobby.”

He said from an overall financial viewpoint, Greenwood “has been a complete fiasco.” He added that “we are probing every avenue available for satisfactory outlet - other than dealing with people who are sports car enthusiasts.”

Meanwhile, weeds are growing in the pit areas of what was designed to be one of the finest and most popular sports car racing tracks in America.

-- Competition Press & Autoweek, Vol. 15, No. 3, August 14, 1965, Pg. 13