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Ralph Capitani Obituary

3/1/2017 - Ralph Arthur “Cappy” Capitani, age 84, of Knoxville, Iowa, passed away Monday, February 27, 2017 at the Knoxville Hospital and Clinics in Knoxville. Visitation for Ralph will be held from 3:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M., at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Ralph’s family will be greeting friends from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., Thursday evening. Ralph’s wishes were to be cremated and a celebration of life service will be held at 11:00 A.M., Friday, March 3, 2017, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Knoxville. Pastor Joel Picard will be officiating. Ralph was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 15, 1932 the son of Joe and Cecilia Capitani. Ralph’s parents died when ...

Mourning Ralph Capitani

2/28/2017 - by Track Historian Eric Arnold All of us at Knoxville Raceway and the Marion County Fair Board are deeply saddened to pass along the news of Ralph Capitani passing. “Cappy” was one of the most influential people in the history of the Knoxville Raceway as the Race Director and Promoter for 34 seasons from 1978-2011. He was 84 years old. Cappy was born March 15, 1932 in Des Moines and attended high school at Dowling Catholic. He then went to the University of Northern Iowa (known then as Iowa Teachers College) where he was a standout fullback on the football team and named NAIA First Team All American in 1954, the first student athlete named All American for the school. Cappy had offers ...

Knoxville Raceway Official Statement on Passing of Ralph Capitani

2/27/2017 - “This is a sad day for Knoxville, Iowa, Knoxville Raceway and all of sprint car racing as we’ve lost Ralph Capitani. A visionary in the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger and the grandstands fuller. He achieved them all with a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for every team owner, driver, crew member and fan that ever crossed his path. Cappy was a great mentor to everyone who had the privilege of working with him-whether here at the track or at Knoxville High School where he taught and coached. It may be a cliché, but in this case saying Cappy made Knoxville Raceway a better place could not be ...

Remembering Naomi Grimes

2/21/2017 - by Bob Wilson & Eric Arnold - Track Historians All of us at Knoxville Raceway are saddened to learn of the passing of Naomi Grimes. Naomi along with her husband Ray Grimes, promoted Knoxville Raceway from 1974-1979. Together they rescued Knoxville Raceway from its financial problems and kept racing alive at the Marion County Fairgrounds. They decided to expand the Knoxville Nationals to a four-day event and invented the Nationals scoring system. Naomi, and their daughters Linda and Teri sat down at the kitchen table and used prior year’s Nationals results to form different scenarios before coming up with the Nationals scoring and point system that is still used today. Her basic schedule on Saturday nights was to work at the pit shack ...


2/15/2017 - of Pella, Iowa and Kraig Ford in Oskaloosa, Iowa will be the “Official Vehicle Providers of Knoxville Raceway”. The partnership commences with Ford Opening Night at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday, April 16. Both owned by long-time Knoxville Raceway supporter Craig Ford, and Kraig Ford will supply a new pace truck for the track in 2017 to be unveiled soon. The dealerships also provide the crowd-pleasing t-shirt gun and shooting truck, a hospitality vehicle, marketing vehicle and touring truck for the track’s traveling sprint car simulator. “Race fans have proven that they’re the most loyal of any professional sports and we’ve seen that over the years from the fans at Knoxville Raceway,” said Craig Ford, owner of ...

Remembering Gil Sonner

2/12/2017 - by Eric Arnold, Track Historian All of us at Knoxville Raceway are saddened to learn of the passing of Gil Sonner today. Gil was born on October 17, 1934 in Des Moines to parents Josephene and Donald Sonner. “Gilly” as he is known, has been the car owner of the #47 sprint car since he began racing in the late 1940’s and 1950’s in the Des Moines area. He first appeared at Knoxville Raceway in 1955 with driver Lee Pinckney. Sonner is primarily known for his run of success at Knoxville Raceway, but he has also won sprint car features in 18 different states with 15 different drivers and was at the first World of Outlaws event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in ...
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