NBC Sports' Kevin Lee talks with Hy-Vee CEO Jeremy Gosch, Penske Corp. President Bud Denker and Hy-Vee Executive Board Chair Randy Edeker.
While Hy-Vee is on its own growth track, the employee-owned Midwest grocer is expected to bring at least 80,000 people to an actual racetrack in Newton, Iowa. The Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend at the Iowa Speedway revs up with family day on Friday, July 21 and continues through double-header races by professional drivers and musical acts by Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band and Ed Sheeran on July 22 and 23.
The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 event on Saturday includes an all-day salute to U.S. veterans and military service members, and the One Step 250 on Sunday is named for the grocer’s One Step program that funds programs to support clean water, packaged meals and reforestation. During a media preview at Hy-Vee’s headquarters in West Des Moines, Randy Edeker, Hy-vee’s executive chairman of the board, said that hosting the races with partner Penske Corp. and supporting sponsors Instacart and Gatorade reflects the company’s commitment to communities. “If you know us, we don’t do anything halfway or hands off, and I’m proud of our efforts and proud of our team,” he declared.
The Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend can also be seen as a metaphor for Hy-Vee’s own model for success, built on staying competitive in existing and new markets, focusing on acceleration through performance and delving into entertainment as part of the shopping experience. In an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, CEO Jeremy Gosch backed up that comparison. “If you look at what’s happening, I would contend that the race really reflects the diversity of our stores,” he said. “This a combination of entertainment acts and activation in the race, and our stores are a combination of traditional grocery with center store, a restaurant, specialty pharmacy, healthcare and e-commerce. If you think about all that we do and how diversified we are right now, this race is no different – it’s very diverse across a lot of different fan bases.”
Hy-Vee’s leaders and many of its employee owners will be on hand in Newton for the event, whether working, volunteering or spectating. They will be closely watching Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and its driver Christian Lundgaard, who drives Hy-Vee’s No, 45 Vivid Clear Rx Honda. “People ask me, ‘What are you excited about?’ We’ve got amazing, swing-for-the-fence entertainment and I love that it will bring people to town, but I like to watch (that) car,” Edeker said of the Hy-Vee race vehicle.
Lundgaard, who won the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16 and spent time in Iowa this week helping out Hy-Vee with a Meals on Wheels program, said he is grateful for the opportunity. “It’s been a pretty exciting week already,” he reported.
Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states, with sales of more than $13 billion annually. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company has a team of more than 80,000 employees and is No. 36 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Hy-Vee a 2023 Top Regional.