Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp, has pointed to the feasibility of holding an IndyCar race in Mexico in the future, though there are no current plans for an event in the near term.
The idea of a return to Mexico City for the primarily US-based series has been a popular one in recent years, especially with a skilled Mexican driver by the name of Pato O’Ward stepping into the frame.
O’Ward has built a large following of dedicated fans, and some see the addition of a race in his home country as a logical move.
Speaking during the second annual Race Industry Week hosted by Epartrade and RACER, Miles talked about what he wants to see happen before pursuing a return to Mexico for the first time since 2007.
“Mexico has always been interesting to us,” said Miles. “We, even in the last few months, have had conversations. We want to make sure that we go there at the right time.
“We want lasting benefit; we want to develop the sport there. Pato [O’Ward], God bless him, is not yet a household name.
“We don’t want to go have an event because someone put the money up, then have it not knock our socks off, and fade after the first year.
“It’s clearly a market in North America that we can see being in, and would love to be in. But I think the question is ‘What’s the right time in terms of development of the fan base for us there?’ There is some [prospect of development].
“They’ve done a phenomenal job with their F1 race, and we’ve got to find a way to get the right toe-hold to reflect well on our brand and develop more fans.
“Broadly, we’re not ready to work on what I would call an international race strategy. But I don’t consider Mexico international. I think we’re a North American series, because I count Toronto.
“It’s not like you gotta get the whole kit and fly it to … wherever. It’s not harder for us to get into Mexico, really, than it is to get to Portland. It’s logistically quite feasible.”
Miles did explain, however, that the idea of a yearly exhibition race in a location outside of North America is something he has considered.
The most recent time IndyCar held such an event was in 2008, when the series travelled Surfers Paradise, Australia for a non-championship round. The event took place just as IndyCar and CART were reunifying into a single series, and has not been part of the calendar since.
“I think our strategy right now is to focus on the momentum we have in North America,” Miles continued. “We’re nowhere near where we can be in the US, so let’s not get distracted.
“Is there some way that maybe a post-season, one-off would allow us to make a splash at the end of the year, for example?
“I don’t want to leave a hole in the championship. I don’t want to take a three-week hole to go abroad and be in the wrong time zone from the US point of view.
“But there might be something more creative that, when we find just the right opportunity, could be good for the whole sport and garner more attention as more of a one-off event outside the US.”