IndyCar should look beyond North America, says Zak Brown

McLaren CEO wants to see US-based series spread its footprint to Mexico and South America.

IndyCar should look beyond North America, says Zak Brown

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  • IndyCar hasn’t raced outside North America since 2013
  • Open-wheel series only race outside the US is in Toronto

McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown wants to see IndyCar spread its racing footprint south into the Americas but stopped short of calling for a global calendar to rival Formula One.

Formula One has been expanding its presence in North America, with four races on the schedule for 2023 - three in the US and one in Canada. Brown, who has overseen McLaren's return to the American-based open-wheel series, has now called for IndyCar to expand beyond its traditional heartland.

“I’m not a fan of [IndyCar] leaving the Americas,” said Brown in an interview with Business Insider. “I think Mexico would be a great location.

“We’re already in Canada, but I think it’s pretty hard to be a domestic series that occasionally goes global. I think you either [have to] be global or domestic.

“Otherwise, you don’t get enough exposure to kind of, you know, dip into Europe once a year or Australia like we used go to.

“So personally, I’d like to see it stay in the Americas, you know, Brazil, Mexico, North America as we have it.

“But I think going beyond that isn’t something I would be in favour of.”

IndyCar has not raced outside of North America since it visited São Paulo in 2013. The series has also raced in countries like Japan and Australia, with those final outings coming in 2011 and 2008, respectively.

Before the Indy Racing League merged with the Champ Car World Series in 2008 to create the IndyCar we know today, there was a race held in Mexico City between 2002 and 2007.

Brown’s desire for a return to Mexico is fuelled by Pato O’Ward, one of the drivers in his Arrow McLaren team.

The Mexican driver has previously said that any return to his home country would be “a sold-out event”. Mark Miles, president and chief executive of IndyCar owner Penske Entertainment, agrees.

“We’ve long seen Mexico as a market where we could imagine racing,” said Miles earlier this year.

“We’ve got to find the right place under the right circumstances, but we are interested in racing in Mexico if we can put all the pieces together.”

IndyCar is currently riding the wave of increased popularity for motorsport, largely fuelled by Formula One’s rise in the US.

Formula One TV rights are also the subject of great debate at the moment, with Disney-owned ESPN, Comcast-owned NBC, Netflix, and Amazon all in competition for the next contract.

For IndyCar, its TV ratings have been the highest in 19 years so far this season, according to Forbes.

Any future plans for the series need to be carefully researched, however. Miles concluded: “I want to understand the different perspective in the US, for example, versus France.

“That will guide us in the way we continue to go to market. It will help guide us as we appeal to fans and as we reach out to grow the sport through the acquisition of new fans.”