NASCAR returns to Mexico for 2017 with new sponsor PEAK
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) NASCAR will resurrect its series in Mexico behind new title sponsor PEAK, an automotive products company seeking to boost its profile.
The rebranded NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series will mark its return with an exhibition race in Mexico City in December. The series plans to run a full championship schedule next year.
The announcement Tuesday night in Mexico City was attended by Daniel Suarez, who used the series as a starting point that led to his current ride with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Suarez is currently tied for the lead in the Xfinity Series championship. He spent four years racing in NASCAR Mexico and won 10 races before graduating to the national series level. He's the first Mexican driver to win a national series race and lead a national series in points.
NASCAR Mexico has also helped the development of Ruben Garcia Jr., who has three career Xfinity Series starts, and German Quiroga, who has 53 starts in the Truck Series.
Lou Garate, vice president of partnership marketing for NASCAR, believes the return of the series in Mexico will bolster the popularity of stock car racing and provide opportunities for aspiring drivers and crew members.
''We want this to be a base, and if you can make it in NASCAR Mexico, you can make it in the U.S.,'' Garate said.
NASCAR Mexico did not run this year as NASCAR reassessed the program after nine seasons. The return was aided by the multi-year agreement with PEAK, a division of Old World Industries that has a lengthy association in auto racing.
A privately-held company with only 250 employees, PEAK has a 30-year association with motorsports. PEAK has a relationship with Clint Bowyer in the Sprint Cup Series and is the title sponsor of NASCAR's eSports partner, iRacing.com. PEAK also is the primary sponsor for John Force in NHRA and has associate sponsorships with several other drivers as well as riders from the Professional Bullriding circuit.
For PEAK, each partnership is embraced by the small company and used as a platform for its brand and its employees. NASCAR Mexico provided PEAK a new growth area for the company, said Bryan Emrich, chief marketing officer for Old World Industries.
Emrich said PEAK was intrigued by the potential to leverage its brand both inside Mexico and the U.S., and by the growth of Suarez as a symbol ''of the future of where the sport is going with diversity.''
''We like partnerships in which we can tie to properties and make investments that make us feel we are as big as we want to be, that gives us tremendous value,'' said Emrich.