RACING

Zak Brown wants IndyCar races in more countries, but not like F1

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  • IndyCar has benefited from the rise in popularity of motorsports, as TV viewership and attendance are on the rise.
  • As F1 expands its footprint in the United States, it might be time for IndyCar to move in the opposite direction.
  • McLaren CEO Zak Brown would like to see IndyCar expand internationally, but he doesn’t want to leave the Americas.

IndyCar’s popularity is booming and the next step may be to expand the frontiers of the North American open-wheel racing series.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who runs teams in IndyCar and Formula 1, would like to see more countries host IndyCar races, but he doesn’t want to see the series go global like F1.

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Of the 17 IndyCar races scheduled for the 2022 season, 16 are in the United States, with only one international race in Toronto. Brown would like to see races in Mexico and maybe even South America.

“I’m not a fan of leaving the Americas,” Brown told Insider ahead of the Indianapolis 500. “I think Mexico would be a great place. to be a national series that goes global once in a while. I think you have to be either global or national. Otherwise you’re not exposed enough to kind of, you know, diving Europe once a year or Australia as we used to go.

“So personally, I would like to see him stay in the Americas, you know, Brazil, Mexico, North America like we have. But I think going beyond that is not something. something I would be in favor of.”

Another possibility is Argentina.

According to Marshall Pruett of Racer, a group representing the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo road course in the province of Santiago, recently met with IndyCar officials in hopes of bringing the series to Argentina. This circuit already hosts a MotoGP event, and the country last hosted an IndyCar event in 1971.

IndyCar rides the wave of motorsport in the United States

TV ratings for IndyCar races this year were the highest in 19 years, even before their flagship event, the Indianapolis 500, according to Forbes. Some have credited F1’s growing popularity in the United States for having attracted more attention and interest in motorsport.

F1 has capitalized on the ramp-up by expanding its US presence with two races this year, in Miami and Austin, and adding a third in 2023 in Las Vegas.

The growth of F1 in the United States will mean more money for the sport. Insider’s Claire Atkinson reported that several broadcasters, including current rights holder ESPN, as well as


netflix

and Amazon, all of whom are in a bidding war over the next F1 TV contract in the United States.

Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corporation, owner of the NTT IndyCar series, also talked about a return to Mexico. IndyCar last raced in Mexico City in 2007 and would mark a more manageable trip than going to South America.

“We’ve long looked at Mexico as a market where we could imagine racing,” Miles said, according to Motorsport. “We have to find the right place in the right circumstances, but we’re interested in racing in Mexico if we can put all the pieces together.”

One of Brown’s Arrow McLaren drivers is Pato O’Ward of Mexico, one of the best drivers in the series.

“I always tell everyone, if we go back to Mexico, it’s going to be a sold-out event, and it’s going to be awesome!” O’Ward said in 2021.

Pato O'Ward

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward leads the Indianapolis 500.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images


O’Ward led the IndyCar Championship run at the end of the 2021 season. This led to an agreement to broadcast the final three races of the season nationally in Mexico. O’Ward ultimately finished third but celebrated the broadcast deal at the time.

“This is really exciting news,” O’Ward said. “Knowing that millions of my compatriots can watch on television gives me more energy and fight to celebrate a title with them.”

Maybe they can see him in person in the near future.

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