Monterrey: Was it better or worse?

 by Jose Arrambide
May 27, 2004

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The crowd is big in Monterrey
Champ Car

The Monterrey racing weekend has come and gone, and all of the topics relating to the actual race have been discussed to death by Mexican fans, so now that the excitement surrounding the event has died down, itís time to try to be objective (although I will never be 100% objective when discussing Champ cars, Iíll do my best for this article) and see if the Monterrey Grand Prix as an event was an improvement from last year's.

The organizers had the worst conditions possible to market the 2004 event.  The series went into bankruptcy, then one of the biggest Mexican racing heroes (Adrian Fernandez) decided to take his team and bolt to the IRL just before the new season.  That was followed by the announcement of Michel Jourdainís team (Michel is the biggest racing hero) would bolt to the IRL leaving the driver without a team for the 2004 season.

Add to that the fact that the local media was trashing the series (if not ignoring it altogether) on topics such as the last drivers to complete the magic entry number of 18 were announced days before the first race, and the TV package was announced also before the first race, and you have an almost impossible mission of selling the Monterrey Grand Prix to the fans.

Yours truly on Friday

If you take the attendance number of the event as a parameter, then they did the impossible.  They had an improved attendance both on the race day (not a very big increase but an increase nevertheless) and on the overall 3 day event (hereís where the big increase was), there was an improvement of around 12% from the 2003 event. This improvement had nothing to do with luck, they improved the offering from last year, adding concerts, adding extreme games and adding the entrance to a theme park without increasing the price (they even decreased the price of the general admission tickets).

But the biggest effort was on the public relations front where they did a great job of promoting the event in every newspaper, radio and TV station available in the country, and they recruited the help of the sponsors.  They worked together to promote the event and the sponsors pitched in with their money.

This was the work done before the race, but the most important part was to be done during the weekend of the race where they had to show that the series didnít lose any of its pizzazz and talent.

The proof came as soon as Saturday qualifying where 6 drivers broke the track record.  However, the best proof was the great race staged on Sunday, where the outcome was not clear most of the race, with drama, with twists, with excitement, but most importantly with full grandstands, convincing everybody in Mexico that Champ Cars are here to stay (including 2004's biggest Mexican detractor, local paper El Norte), and making everyone start thinking about the Grand Prix of Mexico.

Unfortunately it is not 100% certain Champ Cars are here to stay as everyone in Mexico thinks a lot of other good things have to happen.  At least Monterrey did its share, now itís the turn of the other venues and players.

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