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It’s true, Knoxville is the Sprint Car Capital of the World and welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world each year, but this town is so much more! Located about 50 miles southeast of Des Moines, Knoxville is the seat of Marion County and has a population of about 7,500. With several major employers and expanding housing options, Knoxville offers a lot of amenities while preserving the beloved small-town atmosphere. Residents enjoy a recreation center, a county park with camping, trails, playgrounds and ballparks, a hospital, great schools, and plenty of recreational opportunities in town and nearby, including at Lake Red Rock, the largest lake in Iowa.


Knoxville is small enough that residents can walk or bike to most necessities, and Competine Trail offers a beautiful route for recreational walkers and connects the Highway 14/Lincoln corridor with the neighborhoods south of downtown. Knoxville is served by the HIRTA bus service, there is an organized Park and Ride system traveling to Des Moines, and some local taxi services. The average one-way commute for Knoxville residents is 19.8 minutes, as compared to the 26.4 national average.

Activity & Entertainment

Knoxville is ground zero for dirt track racing, and many locals embrace the fun and welcome fans from all over the world to their small town. The community is welcoming and laid back, and residents value how people step up to support one another in times of need. Knoxville has a thriving restaurant and retail scene, and is within minutes of Lake Red Rock, the largest lake in Iowa, as well as being close enough to Des Moines to enjoy the city’s amenities.


The area around Knoxville was originally home to the Sac and Fox Tribes who managed to stall European American settlers at the Red Rock line, which runs north-south Knoxville, from 1842 to 1846. After this, the Tribes were required to vacate the land, and the town was established on the site selected the year before by Joseph Robinson & James Montgomery, and lots were sold for as little as $15! The railroad reached Knoxville in 1875, and coal mining began about the same time, becoming a major industry in the area. In 1901 the dirt oval that would become the Knoxville Raceway was created for horse racing, but by 1917 it had been improved and was used for ‘automobile racing meets’. In the 1970s, two manufacturing plants came to town, 3M and Hormel, which continue to employ hundreds of area residents today; and in 2000, Weiler Manufacturing was founded in Knoxville providing more opportunity for area residents.

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