The Pros & Cons Of IndyCar Racing In Mexico

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Things are sounding more and more like the Verizon IndyCar Series will be racing somewhere in Mexico next season. In an article at Racer.com, Marshall Pruett reports that IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is having serious dialogue regarding a race south of the border sometime next year.

For a lot of reasons, it makes sense. With a growing Hispanic population in the US, that is a segment that IndyCar would really like to tap into. Plus, there are many economic opportunities and benefits for the series hosting a race in Mexico. I’m all for additional races in North America. I’d like to see more Canadian races , so it would make sense for the series to look southward as well.

Depending on the location, logistics would not be that much of a problem. Most seem to think that the race will take place at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Even though Mexico City is pretty far down into Mexico, it’s still not quite as far from Indianapolis as Long Beach is, which is close to 2,100 miles. Of course, crossing the border both ways and the mountainous terrain pose their own difficulties – but it is certainly doable.

Like Canadian races, this would be an international race without the issue of time zones. Mexico City is in what amounts to the US Central Time Zone – the same as Chicago, Nashville and Dallas. You wouldn’t have the same issues that the series had when they went to Twin-Ring Motegi in Japan. To watch the IndyCar races at Motegi, I had to stay up until around 2:00 am just to see who won. It was either that or DVR the race until the next day. I always chose to stay up. This would not be an issue with a race in Mexico.

So let the record show that I am not opposed to the Verizon IndyCar Series racing in Mexico. What I am opposed to is where it looks like such a race will fall in the schedule – October. The timing of an IndyCar race outside our borders is terrible.

In past discussions about international races, Miles usually talked in terms of those races being held in February before the US portion of the schedule began. I’m not wild about the series having its season-opener in a foreign country, but given the fact that most of the US is still frigid in February – I get it that they might have to go elsewhere to hold races. The first few CART races held at Surfer’s Paradise in Australia in the early nineties served as the season-opener. Although the time difference posed a problem, I thought it was a great way to kick off the season. Mexico seems like an ideal destination in February.

But as much as I’m not crazy about kicking the season off in another land, I’m even more opposed to crowning your season’s champion in another country. If the race is happening in October, does that mean the season finale would be held in Mexico or would there be another race a couple of weeks later?

One thing to keep in mind; even though the transporters can make the trip versus flying the equipment down there – there is always the question of how long it might take to get all of the cars and equipment back into the US. We continually hear of people and cargo getting held up in customs. I would hate for a race to be scheduled one or even two weekends after Mexico and have a customs snag hold things up for whatever reason. So either your final race of the season will be at least a couple of weeks after the Mexico race or you’re crowning your champion in another country. Neither is good.

I don’t have a problem going head-to-head against the NFL for one or even two weekends in September. But by the time October rolls around, the NFL has full momentum and college football is at the midway point of their season. Plus, the MLB Playoffs and World Series are in full swing while the NHL and NBA are kicking off their respective seasons. That’s a lot going on in the month of October to try and hold the public’s attention for IndyCar.

You and I will continue to watch and keep up with it, but the casual fan that everyone is going after will not give IndyCar any thought at all when the leaves are turning.

If the plan is to conclude the season outside of our borders, that’s even worse. While I’m all in favor of racing outside of the US during the season, this is still considered a US-based series. I feel strongly that a US-based series needs to crown its new series champion on US soil. Some may consider that narrow thinking, but it’s the way I feel. I have an idea I’m not alone in my thinking, either.

George Phillips

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13 Responses to “The Pros & Cons Of IndyCar Racing In Mexico”

  1. Another con, I seem to recall this from the ill-fated NASCAR trips to Mexico is safety. I honestly believe that was a big part of them leaving, I seem to recall an article where NASCAR had to pile the rigs into a 25 mph police escort in parts of Mexico because the officials had been tipped off that gangs were planning to hijack the trailers and rob them all. Talk about hazard duty pay!

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    If the logistics can be worked out, I would like to see IndyCar race in Mexico even in October. I may be one of the few that do not particularly care where the season ends if it does not end on an oval.

    I went up to Elkhart Lake over the weekend on a bit of a working vacation. While there I found time to get over to the track to watch the sporty cars race. Nissan upset the Cadillacs. I have often wondered how those Taylor kids would do in an IndyCar. The weather was great and the autumn leaves were beginning to turn to shades of Target red, spray tan orange, and the golden browns of Sonoma.

    The RA promoter offers one of those deals whereby you can run laps in the car that brung ya. In that regard, I wish I still had my beloved 3.8 liter Jaguar sedan like the one Inspector Morse favors. Lordy how I loved that car! It had Emma-like curves, a wonderful exhaust sound, was very fast, and it was a babe magnet, though it would take more than a Jaguar to help me in that regard these El Abuelo days.

    Looking forward to Gateway and da Glen. Da Bears? Not so much.
    Adios amigos and amigas.

  3. I really don’t want to see Indycar in Mexico. Luckily, based on the past history of international Indycar races, whether it happens or not, it will just be another unfortunate footnote in the dustbin of Indycar race failures within five years.

  4. If you want to be F1 Lite, you have to run internationally.

    I’d much rather they work to put Milwaukee, Kentucky or other classic tracks back on the schedule.

  5. My concern about the proposed race weekend is its proximity to the Formula One weekend. F1 visits Mexico in late October. Unless F1 moved their weekend to June (pairing the race with Montreal), IndyCar should look at March or April to run at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    If the Mexico race winds up in October, I imagine a couple of former Indycar race promoters who were kicked out of October a few years back will be saying “what the heck?”

    That said, if there is money in Mexico, Indycar would be foolish not to pursue it, especially because the time zone poses no difficulty for television (and, by extension, domestic sponsors). The Mexico City track is a fine course, though I was more intrigued by the now-dying rumor that Indycar was looking at racing on the oval in Puebla.

  7. I’ve always believed the IndyCar season finale ought to be the Indy500. Seemed to me that having the true finale of the season 3 months into the season was weird. It’s like the premature ejaculation of motorsport. Excuse the graphic nature of the analogy, but that’s what came to mind. However, tradition usually prevails and I have ceased to make a point of bringing it up on social media, anymore.

  8. Logistically, if F1 can arrange a race in Mexico, with all the associated issues, IndyCar should be able to as well.

  9. I like the idea and I think that February is the best time to run it.

  10. Andrew is correct. the safety situation is worse now.
    the gangs are hitting the main tourist areas which
    used to be off limits.

  11. Yes, Mexico and the following week or two weeks later, season finale at Fontana on an OVAL

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