NOTE: Wallace will start seventh in Sunday's 43-car field. In 14 starts at Infineon Raceway, Wallace has two victories, eight top fives and nine top 10s. His most recent victory at Infineon came in 1996. He has three top five finishes in his last...
NOTE: Wallace will start seventh in Sunday's 43-car field. In 14 starts at Infineon Raceway, Wallace has two victories, eight top fives and nine top 10s. His most recent victory at Infineon came in 1996. He has three top five finishes in his last five starts at the California road course.
Wallace, a 46-year-old NASCAR Winston Cup veteran from St. Louis, Mo., ranks eighth in the 2003 series standings. He's in the process of designing a .875-mile race track in Newton, Iowa. Prior to practice at Infineon on Saturday morning, Wallace discusses the new track.
"I've got myself involved in a pretty exciting project that started about six months ago. I didn't say nothing because I didn't know if it was the real deal. You hear so many of these things about guys wanting to start race tracks. I got a call from Conrad Clement who is a good friend of mine who owns Featherlite. He told me about this project that's going on in Newton, Iowa. A fellow by the name of Paul Schlaakj, Paul is a real neat guy. He's really big into financing. His background is in insurance. He's the guy who goes around and restructures companies and gets 'em back on track. He's a real smart guy."
"He grew up in Iowa. He's real excited about the Iowa region. He got real excited about building a race track there. Newton, Iowa, is the world headquarters of Maytag. I didn't know until I went there the other day that Des Moines is one of the biggest cities in the world when it comes to insurance. It's beautiful. Interstate 35 runs north and south of Minneapolis down to Kansas City. The race track is 15 miles east on interstate 80. It's got a 5500 by 100 airport on it being extended to 7000 feet just like Concord (N.C.) airport. The town is so excited about getting this race track that they've awarded $9 million for construction. They gave us the property, the sewer system, beautiful roads leading up to it. We've been hooked up with Turner Construction Company, the people who built Fontana and Kansas City. We're also in contact right now with Paxton-Waters, the head architect that built Kansas City and California.
"I got a phone call from Paul, and he said he really wanted to get a driver involved. Darrell (Waltrip) got involved in a lot of hype to get the Kentucky Speedway going on. My involvement is a lot deeper. I'll be on the board, I'll have a big say-so in it, but the biggest thing is they want me to design the race track. He said he had no idea why racers don't get involved with designing tracks. He had all the stats and said since I'd been in Winston Cup racing I'd won basically 10 percent of all the races. He said I'd won almost 40 percent at tracks of this proposed size (less than a mile). I'm going to design the track with Turner Construction and Paxton-Waters and we're going to get after it. The neat thing about this project is that we've already got the land and infrastructure and everything. Our next release will come out when financing and investment have been secured and my involvement will be a little deeper than the initial announcement was. I'm going to design the track. It's going to be a seven-eighths mile track and it's going to be totally unique in shape. We'll open up with the soft walls in place. It'll be 25,000 permanent seats with ASA, ARCA, USAC and four concerts. It's a really cool piece of property. It's got an 80-foot fall from the top of the property to the bottom end. It's one of the coolest pieces of property you've ever seen. As a fan, you're going to get an amphitheatre feel. We'll have a complete circle of seats between turns three and four. That's where the concerts will be held. You'll be sitting in the hillside with concrete seats with the seats bolted to the concrete."
"The ultimate dream will be one day to have a truck race or a Busch race there, going in knowing you'll never get a Winston Cup race at this point in time. I'm excited about it. I'm from the Midwest. I'm really amazed every time I go back to the Midwest and do autograph sessions and stuff. Thousands of people will show up to see me, and they'll do that for a lot of drivers."
"I went out to Rapid City, S.D., not too long ago for a cable company. I do a lot of speaking for Comcast. They bought out AT&T. My deal with Comcast is cable television. It has nothing to do with phones. I need to make that clear. It was six degrees below zero outside and they had 1,200 people standing outside in line. I learned that when there's not an event going on, you go out to some location and the race fans pour out. When I went to Iowa the other day, all the highways were brand new, four lane, concreted highways. Great hotels, great restaurants, three airports within 15 miles."
"The proposed groundbreaking is Sept. 1. Maytag, Newton, everybody is up in arms. It's a neat project. I called Mike Helton and told him what was going on, and his comment was, 'we're not interested in awarding date.' I didn't ask him that. I just wanted to tell him what was happening. He thought it was a real good project for me. NASCAR can't really get involved, but I can. The ultimate goal is when it's done my peers will race on it and say it's a cool track. They all say that about Richmond. It'll be based on Richmond, but it'll be seventh-eighths mile. I'm interested to see how Homestead is going to turn out with the compound banking. That's been an idea of mine for a long time. We've got to figure out how to get these cars to race side by side."
"The shape is basically like Richmond. I don't like the entry into turn one at Richmond. It's got a real loose feel when you enter turn one. We're going to straighten that out a little bit more. I'm going to carry the banking off turn two a little more. We might go two angles with the banking. I won't go three angles. I think Richmond is one of the most exciting tracks we race on. It's proven we can race on the bottom, middle and top at that track, so why try to reinvent the wheel. I'm going to clean up the problems we see there."
"I've never understood when new race tracks are being designed why not go to the people who drive on them and understand them. Golfers are experts and golfers should design golf courses. I think there's an opportunity for me to design race tracks. The estimated time is 14 months to build it. That's based off of how long it took to build Kansas City, California and Chicago. This is not going to involve much earth moving at all. It would be a good track for IRL, and we're courting them, too."