Get to Know: Knoxville 

The “Sprint Car Capital of the World” is where racing fans find exciting auto racing near Des Moines. Along with the Knoxville Nationals and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Knoxville Raceway welcomes the annual Marion County Fair each summer. Racing enthusiasts can head to Slideways Karting Center, too — a local entertainment spot that offers go-karts, mini-golf and dining. The award-winning Peace Tree Brewing Company’s original taproom in Knoxville offers seasonal brews, including limited-edition sours. Just a short drive from Knoxville is Lake Red Rock, a recreation destination with Iowa’s largest lake, trails, campgrounds, beaches and more. The Red Rock Visitor Center and Elk Rock State Park are both located in the tightknit community, and outdoor enthusiasts who live in Knoxville love the hiking, camping, horseback riding, biking and more available in the area.  

overhead image of a race track

Knoxville at a Glance 

Knoxville in one sentence: Recognized as the Sprint Car Capital of the World, Knoxville offers both world-class racing and quiet small-town living. 

The top five best things about Knoxville: Start your engines! Every August, Knoxville Raceway hosts the greatest show on dirt, the Knoxville Nationals. Plus, weekly sprint-car races take to the half-mile track every Saturday night from April through September. But racing isn’t the only action in Knoxville. Nestled near Lake Red Rock, the largest lake in Iowa, Knoxville offers a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities. Plus, there’s the historic downtown, a craft brewery and even a vineyard. 

Hidden gems and unexpected finds in Knoxville: Did you know Knoxville is the birthplace of the Iowa flag? Believe it. Get a peek at Dixie Cornell Gebhardt’s original drawing of the Iowa flag design on display in the Marion County Courthouse. 

Community traditions and annual events: The Knoxville Nationals is the granddaddy of events in Knoxville, but plenty of tradition also surrounds the annual Marion County Fair, held each year in mid-July. There you’ll find farming exhibits, gardening competitions, dog shows and an arm-wrestling contest, too! 

Best ways to get connected: Get to know local folks through the Knoxville Area Community Theatre, Knoxville Community Chorus and the Knoxville Federated Garden Club. Find service opportunities with the Kiwanis, Optimist Club, and Lions Club. And keep up on the latest events listed on the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce website.  

Big things on the horizon for Knoxville: Following the relocation of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Knoxville, the city is jumping on the opportunity to reimage the 150-acre campus. First up is construction of a new housing development. The city also is launching a project that will see façade improvements on the downtown square. 

If you’re coming to check out Knoxville, be sure to spend your day ... Start the morning with java and breakfast at The Coffee Connection on the north side of the Knoxville square. Then take a walk around the historic downtown and explore the local shops. Next, you’ll want to hit the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can learn about famed drivers, get a look at dozens of cars, watch a film about sprint car racing and experience the thrill of driving in a sprint car simulator. Next to the racetrack, sample the best brisket in town at The Rib Shack. Spend the afternoon kayaking, hiking or biking at beautiful Lake Red Rock, where you might spot pelicans or bald eagles. Stop in at the Nearwood Winery and Vineyard to sample a white or red handcrafted from local grapes. Then it’s time for a bite and brew at Peace Tree Brewing Company. End the evening by testing your racing skills at the Slideways go-kart track or taking in a movie at the historic Grand Theater.  

Some of the ways Knoxville advances diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): Ashley Hynick is making history at Peace Tree Brewing Company, becoming the first Black female brewer in Iowa. 

image of a shoreline