Editorial

Love affair in Mexico

 by Steven N. Levinson
November 17, 2002

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The warmth, the humility, the vitality and the passion of the Mexican racing fans created an incredibly electric atmosphere
Photo by Bruce Hand

As I got on the elevator this morning, I met two young Mexican girls from Guanajuato, and I asked them, ´´LE GUSTAN LAS CARRERAS´´? and they responded ¨Si¨. Yes, they love racing. I was a bit apprehensive yesterday as to whether today's Grand Prix would be a sellout or a box-office flop since the ticket prices were very expensive.  As it turned out my fears were unfounded.

At the start of the race I decided to mingle with the crowd and took a seat in Grandstand 9 (outside turn 1), and it....was wall-to-wall people. Fans of all ages. Young and old. In fact I sat next to a man with his two year old daughter. The surrounding stands number 7, 8 and 10 were equally packed.

The huge throng gave a collective sigh of disappointment when Adrian Fernandez´ replacement, the ´´grasshopper´´, Luiz Diaz pulled off at the end of the main straight with a blown engine early in the race under caution. Likewise, when Mario Dominguez misjudged the first corner and went down the exit road, he too, was met by a thunderous round of applause when he did a 180 and returned to the race.


Michael Andretti takes the green flag for his final CART race.  The huge 174,866 crowd and electric atmosphere was not lost on him.
Photo by Motorola

I watched for 15 or so laps, and decided to wander about the vastness of this venerable circuit named after the immortal Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez brothers, which has so much history behind it. The General Admission areas lining the track were jammed full of fans who paid US$35 just to get a glimpse of not only their homegrown heroes, but the remainder of the CART contingent. The number of infield loiterers was negligible, all were crammed along the fences trying to get a glimpse of the action.  They were even standing on the bridges over the track shooting pictures through any opening they could find.

I then walked to the ´´esses´´, where the cars were thundering through the line hanging it out on a knife edge.   I asked a young man ¨le gusta¨? (you like it) and he nodded with absolute delight, and I quickly followed up with ´´bonito¨? (beautiful) and he agreed with alacrity. Such is the nature of the Mexican racing fans love affair with world class open wheel racing.  It's not only the multitude of beautiful Mexican women, but the warmth, the humility, the vitality and the passion of the Mexican racing fans that created an incredibly electric atmosphere.

It is truly a ´´love affair´.  Mexicans love CART, AND CART loves Mexico. Mexicans respect the discipline of road racing. They understand it's subtleties, and the level of concentration and skill required to handle 800 HP methanol breathing Champ Cars.

Mexicans also are not naive about ¨POLITICS¨, whether it's the domestic variety or the destructive nature of the U.S. Open Wheel War. Of course, Chris Pook's agility in being able to address the Mexican Media in ´´Espanol¨ , combined with his overwhelming charismatic charm has cemented this ´love affair for many years to come.

Thank You Mexico! Hasta Lavista, Baby, CART will be BAAAAAACK!!!!!

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