NEWTON, Iowa – It’s been a whirlwind year for Chris Soules. The Iowa native was second runner-up on the ABC dating show “The Bachelorette” in 2014; he was “The Bachelor” earlier this year and became engaged briefly to the woman he selected; and he finished fifth in May in the 20th season of “Dancing with the Stars” competition.
But that whirlwind was nothing like what the 33-year-old farmer experienced this morning when he took a ride around Iowa Speedway in the INDYCAR Experience two-seater with Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly at the wheel.
“That was awesome,” Soules exclaimed after stepping out of the race car. “The G forces in those turns is intense. I’m hooked, I want to do it again. Maybe I’ve found a new hobby.”
Soules was invited to the Iowa Corn 300 at the .894-mile oval by Honda officials and was told he could receive a ride around the track from a driver. “But they never said I was going to go full speed and to have a legit race car and driver flying me around this thing,” he said.
Daly, who has made five race starts this season, was happy to oblige at speeds up to 160 mph. And like most two-seater riders following their experience, Soules was all smiles.
“The way this track is banked, when you get down on it, it’s crazy,” Soules said. “You don’t really have that perspective from the stands or from TV how steep that is. It’s just intense. It gave me goosebumps going around that track.
“I can see why you have to be an athlete and in good shape because of the toll that takes on your body going around the track like that,” he added. “To do that 300 times (in the race), that’s a long time to be out there. Two hours straight, that’s unbelievable. I have a whole new level of respect for these guys. You can feel the car, the speed, the control that they have to know that they’re not going to spin out. It’s a really cool experience.”
Soules, who has returned to farming in his native Arlington, Iowa, has attended truck series races at Iowa Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But the Iowa Corn 300 was his first Verizon IndyCar Series race in person. He met drivers Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves – the latter a fellow “Dancing with the Stars” alum – before the green flag.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it and embrace all this stuff,” said Soules, who will also appear on the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition” this fall. “Normal farm kids don’t get to do this very often. It’s been a very humbling experience and it’s cool to be able to have opportunities like this.