The most popular motorsports series in Mexico will make its U.S. debut next season at Phoenix International Raceway.
The NASCAR Toyota Series will run at Phoenix on March 1 in conjunction with the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and K&N West Series. The race will be the 2013 season opener for the series, which runs Mexican V8 stock cars.
George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring series, said the race further develops a vision by chairman Brian France to offer racing that appeals to U.S. Latinos. NASCAR took its second-tier Nationwide Series to Mexico for four races from 2005-08.
"Mexico has a long and rich motorsports heritage but not necessarily in stock car racing," Silbermann said Monday. "The whole Mexican motorsports culture has followed either open-wheel racing or sports car racing. Brian made it very clear that a strategic goal of his was to reach a growing fan base and connect with Mexican-American fans here in the states. It was a seed that was planted in 2005 and it has now grown into a tree."
NASCAR and PIR officials scheduled a Tuesday news conference in Phoenix. The event will be a 75-lap race with a scheduled break after 50 laps for pit stops.
The series was launched in 2004 as the "Desafío Corona." NASCAR sanctioned it in 2007, and it was called the NASCAR Corona Series. It became the NASCAR Toyota Series this year, and has run 125 races, all in Mexico.
Bryan Sperber, president of PIR, said he jumped at the opportunity to host the first series race in the U.S. and the demographics of his track's fan base made it a natural fit.
"I look at this as a real opportunity for sports to bring people together," Sperber said. "It's no secret in terms of NASCAR that we want to broaden our consumer base and reach the Latino market. NASCAR Mexico allows us to reach out potentially to new race fans but also give exposure to this series and its drivers."