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
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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