‘Iowa’s Most Notorious Bar’? Dingus Lounge Likes the Sound of That

If they can love the dirt in their track, then they can love the dive in their bar.

And there’s plenty of it here.

AJ Mottet owns the Dingus Bar...and its reputation.

“If the walls could talk," he laughs, "or the flies on the walls could talk--look out!

They’d tell you the story behind the name. A Google search won’t, that’s for sure.

“You type ‘Dingus’ and SpellCheck changes it to ‘fungus,'" says Mottet, who's still laughing.

It was named by former owner, Denny Johnson, in the 1970s.

“His nickname was ‘Dingus’ and the name was so catchy it just stuck over all these years,” Mottet explains.

That’s not the only thing sticky around here. But the grunge is part of the appeal.

"There’s always gonna be something broke, you know," Mottet admits. "There’s always gonna be something dirty. It’s always gotta be a dive bar to have that appeal to it.”

The interior walls--from the lounge, to the halls, to the bathrooms, are covered with signatures.  There was a time when only stars got to sign.

“Jeff Gordon’s right here, Kasey Kahne,” Mottet can barely keep track. "Rickey Stenhouse, Rick Sutcliffe (the former MLB pitcher's father drove sprint cars).

Between the ink and the stink, there is one of Knoxville’s most thriving businesses.  Mottet has expanded Dingus again and again. He now owns the entire block. And during the Nationals, he’ll pack every square foot.

“You basically sell 3,000 cases of beer in 10 days and a tremendous amount of hard liquor.”

During the Thursday of the Knoxville Nationals, Dingus claims it sold 10,700 cans of Busch Light alone.

"We had a chain of employees handing cases right from the truck through the crowd, right into the bar tubs," Mottet says.

When race season finally ends in three weeks, Mottet and his crew will power clean the place.

No matter how thick the garbage and grime get, Dingus always bounces back.

“Well they say you can’t polish a turd? I think they might be wrong about that," Mottet laughs. "We’ve done it quite a few times!”

If you’re pointing out the flaws, you’re missing all the fun. It’s not about appearance, it’s about the experience.

The Dingus Lounge is never less than that.