NASCAR's Mexico Series makes a stop at the L.A. Coliseum in first U.S. race since 2015

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Auto Racing

LOS ANGELES — There has never been any doubt that NASCAR's totally inventive and seemingly crazy idea of building an auto racing track inside the L.A. Memorial Coliseum was a totally transparent attempt to increase its footprint in its largest market in the country. But now in the third year of its season kickoff event, NASCAR has shown its cards even more and its desire to work its way further into the Latino market.

Sunday's Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will be preceded by the King Taco La Batalla en El Coliseo, the first time the NASCAR Mexico Series has raced in the United States since 2015 when it was in Phoenix. And NASCAR shows it can market, having comedian Gabriel (Fluffy) Iglesias serve as the grand marshal for the Mexico race and a trophy designed by noted South Central artist Ozzie Juarez.

The "start your engines" honoree for the Busch Light Clash will be Mexican boxing icon Canelo Álvarez.

"This was a no-brainer decision for us," said Chad Seigler, chief international officer for NASCAR. "Besides just growing the sport, growing the Hispanic audience has been a key initiative for us. … Los Angeles has the second-largest Mexican Hispanic population base in North America outside of Mexico City. We knew the crossover appeal would be there so a lot of those things played in together."

The idea was talked about internally in 2023 but putting the logistics together was too big of an obstacle. But the idea did not die.

"We started working early in the summer of last year and by August we were finally in a spot where we could start notifying all of our teams that we're going to do this," Seigler said.


Los Angeles is NASCAR's largest market with just shy of 2 million fans. About 850,000 are Latino and more than 50% of its fans are considered multi-cultural. Among new fans, less than three years, 32% are Latino.

So, what is the NASCAR Mexico Series?

It was started in 2004 and this year it will have 12 races, all but one in Mexico. The circuit is a cut below the U.S. Cup and Xfinity Series with cars that have lower horsepower, less technology and, most important, less cost to run and operate.

"If you go into Mexico and talk about NASCAR, people will probably tell you who is the current Mexican champion," Seigler said. "We try and create in-market stars and an infrastructure that includes team owners, mechanics and race track promoters. … The second part we try strategically to do, is if there is a driver that says their dream is not just to stay in Mexico but make it to the Cup Series, we try and provide a pathway to the Cup Series. Danny Suárez is a perfect example, he's a driver that left the Mexico Series and went to the Xfinity series and now is in the Cup Series."


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