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NASCAR to deep-six Mexico City UPDATE #4 This rumor, from over a year ago, is upgraded to 'fact' today.  NASCAR officials confirmed what most of us had already suspected – that the Nationwide Series won't return to the road course in Mexico City in 2009. Attendance over the four years at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez had been on the decline, but that wasn't the reason given for the change. The date may shift to the recently opened Iowa Speedway, which already hosts the IRL, ARCA and lower-level NASCAR events. Yahoo Sports [Editor's Note: Will that now make Mexico City more willing to have the IndyCars back?]

03/06/07 The rumor going around in the sports arena in Monterrey, Mexico and the two biggest newspapers is that NASCAR wanted to move the Busch race from Mexico City to Monterrey, but that the promoter, OCESA, would have nothing of it. OCESA said it was either Mexico City for 2008 or no race at all.  Remember that OCESA did a horrible marketing job in 2006 for Champ Car in Monterrey.  J. J. Arrambide Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

03/04/07 The Busch Series will return to Mexico City in 2008 (but what about 2009?), according to Federico Alaman, the director of sports events for race promoter OCESA. Speaking after the drivers meeting for the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 today, Alaman said NASCAR and OCESA have agreed to stage a race in 2008 for a fourth consecutive year at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"We're definitely going to have the event in '08," Alaman said.

NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O'Donnell said there is no contract signed. He also wouldn't commit to the same weekend in the schedule.

"We evaluate our sanctions every year," he said. "We expect to be back. We're happy about it. We plan to be back here. I don't see any reason why we wouldn't."

Alaman said that ticket sales were on pace with last year and he expected a possibly slightly bigger crowd than last year, which Alaman said was about 57,000.

"We're going to have a great weekend and a great race," he said.

He dismissed a rumor that the race would be moved to Monterrey next year, but he did say there is a chance for the Busch Series to go there.

"Monterrey is definitely a future possibility," Alaman said. "It has a lot of racing foundation, especially in the north of the country. We have not talked about that. Scenedaily.com

03/02/07 Felix Sabates, who played a key role in NASCAR's sanctioning of a Busch Series race in Mexico City, said Friday afternoon that he believes the series will return for a fourth consecutive year in 2008.  While various teams have questioned whether NASCAR will return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Sabates said that was more wishful thinking of teams that don't want to race there or are frustrated over the logistics.

Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, said he had heard of no discussions of moving the race to another Mexican city or not coming to Mexico at all.

"The [sanctioning] contracts are one year, and anything can happen, but if something was going to happen, I would have heard by now," Sabates said. "They're very happy. The sponsors are happy. You watch this race Sunday, the ratings are going to be huge." 

Last year, the race paid more than $2.4 million in purse, the second-highest of the season and one of only two races to exceed $1.61 million in purse.

The purse this weekend is $2.512 million.

"We're going to be here," Sabates said. "Put it this way, it's the second-highest paid race as far as the purse. We're coming back." Scenedaily.com

03/02/07 Team owners and drivers throughout the Busch Series garage are asking one big question as NASCAR prepares for the third running of the series road race there this weekend: Are we coming back in 2008? It's a question that doesn't have definitive answer yet. Many in the garage - tired of the logistical hurdles the race brings - say they have heard rumors that NASCAR might opt to move the race to Monterrey or just not return to Mexico.

  From the start, the Busch Series race at Mexico City has been viewed as a three-year experiment, and this is the third year of the race at the track with promotion company OCESA.

"All of our sanctioning agreements are annual, and we're excited about this year's event and expect a good crowd," NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O'Donnell said Friday morning at the track. "As with any event, we'll work with the promoter after the race and evaluate how it went, but so far I think we're happy with everything that's been done."

O'Donnell said there have been no discussions about running a race in Monterrey and said the evaluation of this event will happen in four to six weeks.

NASCAR's international director, Robbie Weiss, said Friday he has not heard of any discussions about moving the event to Monterrey, which he said has a capable facility but is a much smaller market than Mexico City (about 3 million people vs. 25 million).

"From all of our discussions with OCESA, this is the premier venue, and we're excited about being here," O'Donnell said. "They host a Champ Car race in Monterrey, so they felt like this is the best venue for us to be at."

OCESA has a 10-year contract to promote the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series. "For our sport, it is our Daytona 500 in Mexico City," said Mexico City native Jorge Goeters, who sat on the pole for the Busch race two years ago.

"I hear from a lot of people that they enjoy coming to Mexico. I think it has to be every year."

Weiss said NASCAR's Mexico strategy wasn't a three-year plan.

"This is a brand new market for NASCAR. This is a brand new market for stock-car racing, and the fact that it has grown as it has the last three years is pretty fantastic," Weiss said. "But the work is not finished. We still have a lot of work to do to grow NASCAR in Mexico. ... This is part of a long-term strategy." Scenedaily
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