Phoenix International Raceway will host the first NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series race in the United States. The race is part of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint series weekend at PIR. David Alvarez, multicultural marketing and communications manager for Phoenix International Raceway, and Pepe Machin, NASCAR multicultural marketing director for Phoenix International Raceway, discuss details about this landmark international event.
Jose Cardenas: Phoenix international raceway will host the first Nascar Mexico Toyota series in the United States. It will happen as part of the subway fresh fit 500 Nascar sprint series at PIR. Here to talk about this event is David Alvarez, the multicultural marketing and communications manager for Phoenix international raceway. And Joseph Machin, Nascar multicultural marketing director. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." David, let's start with you and your involvement with PIR.
David Alvarez: Sure. We really are excited to bring the first Nascar Mexico race ever here to the United States, and what we're doing is really increasing awareness at a local level. This is the very first time that obviously this race has come to the United States, and I think it's a great opportunity to reach out to our Hispanic community.
Jose Cardenas: Joseph, why does Nascar need to bring Nascar Mexico here to generate interest in the United States when you have Nascar USA?
Joseph Machin: One of the challenges we have as a sport is that we don't yet have enough Hispanic drivers and fan base, so we want to expand our fan base, and one way to do that is to -- So bringing Nascar Mexico into the United States and having their equivalent of the Daytona 500 in Phoenix is a big opportunity, and helps us do that.
Jose Cardenas: The Nascar Mexico initiative itself is relatively new. Five years?
Joseph Machin: Actually it's closer to three years.
Jose Cardenas: We have at least one picture of one of the raceways, but how has Nascar been received in Mexico?
Joseph Machin: For us it's a surprising success because the notion of stock car is not very well known south of the border except for Brazil and Argentina. The fact Nascar has been able to grow a fan base around 30% year over year, we're very impressed with that.
Jose Cardenas: And this is the raceway in Mexico city we're seeing on screen?
Joseph Machin: Correct.
Jose Cardenas: So it looks like a pretty packed crowd. Is that typical now in Mexico?
Joseph Machin: It sure is. Actually our races in Mexico tend to be a lot more lively than the ones in the U.S.
Jose Cardenas: It's hard to imagine races being livelier than those in the U.S. How is that so?
Joseph Machin: When the race concludes, literally all of the fans come out to the track and the drivers come out of the cars and they start signing autographs, and people just -- There's an engagement level with the drivers that is a lot stronger than here in the U.S. So we're hoping that some of that fanfare and some of that emotion and passion that we're seeing in Mexico will start to ignite consumers here in the U.S. as well to become engaged with our sport.
Jose Cardenas: David, part of the effort is built around Mexican and Hispanic drivers from the United States as well, and we've got a few pictures of some of the current stars that we're going to put on the screen. I want to talk a little bit about them. But what efforts is the Nascar making to bring them along and this picture here, tell us about this gentleman.
David Alvarez: He is actually an aspiring driver out of Mexico, and he owns the team in Mexico and he has three total drivers he oversees. So he's one of the guys we're very excited about, and we are doing a number of things with him here in the United States.
Jose Cardenas: Will he be racing at PIR?
David Alvarez: Yes, he will. And he along with two other from the Nascar Mexico series are active in the Hispanic community here in Phoenix, Arizona. So he along with everybody one else will be up here for the March race.
Jose Cardenas: We've got a couple more pictures on the screen as we're talking. But there's a special program that Nascar has to bring along Hispanic drivers.
David Alvarez: That is correct. Nascar has implemented the next line program, as well as the diversity program geared for that exact purpose. To bring them along, teach them the ins and outs of what it takes to become a successful race car driver. Not just on the track but also off the track with community service, and being in front of the camera. And interacting with fans.
Joseph Machin: The nice thing about D for D as we call it, drive for diversity program, is that it prepares young diverse drivers as well as mechanics, we are opening it up to pretty much every single discipline we have within the Nascar ecosystem to bring in diverse not just pilots, but also people who will participate actively in our sport at all levels.
Jose Cardenas: When you say pilots you're using the Spanish equivalent for race car driver.
Joseph Machin: Yes.
Jose Cardenas: So we have a couple of other pictures we want to show of some drivers. But how are -- How are you doing this? Are you going out into the community, recruiting these folks?
Joseph Machin: Yes, we are. We actually have alliances with several schools through the national STEM program, and we identify students who excel in math and science, and who apply to become part of the program. Once they go through a vetting process, they get accepted into the training, and then they just choose the discipline they want to learn, and they grow up the ranks. One of the pictures we currently have, we're going to be showing you is from Danny. And he's part of the next line program.
Jose Cardenas: What is the next line program? Is this Danny?
David Alvarez: That is Danny. The next line program is a program geared towards growing these young aspiring drivers, and you have folks from Nascar Mexico, have you drivers that are part of the leagues here in Nascar, the series that we have in the United States, for instance, Danny is racing a series west. It's equal to the single A in baseball or double A in baseball and he also race as full season in Mexico.
Jose Cardenas: And where is Danny from?
David Alvarez: Danny is from Monterey, Mexico.
Jose Cardenas: And do you have some U.S. born Hispanics who are also part of this next line program?
David Alvarez: We do. We actually have three drivers, I know one of them is from Virginia, we have another from California, and a third from I believe Las Vegas.
Jose Cardenas: And why the title next line?
David Alvarez: Those have been -- The guys have been designated as the next line up and coming drivers. The sport feels great about them because they've been able to go through the process of sort of mastering these different disciplines if you will. Being able to excel in the community, excel on the track, and excel off the track.
Jose Cardenas: Just -- We've got another picture, but while we're waiting for that, what's the point of starting the Mexico Nascar series here in Arizona?
Joseph Machin: Well, first it's going to be the equivalent of their Daytona 500. We wanted to celebrate it in Phoenix in order to use it with a two-pronged purpose. One, we want to contextualize the sport, bring the sport this side of the border, and we wanted to use this as an opportunity to bridge cultures, to create awareness of how important it is to connect both cultures south and north of the border.
Jose Cardenas: But at this particular time, when we know that fairly or not, Arizona's image in Mexico itself is not the highest, concerns about SB 1070 and other -- What many perceive as anti-immigrant activities, why come to Arizona?
Joseph Machin: It is precisely the reason why we chose this area. We believe by attacking the social problems or the social perceptions full frontal gives us an opportunity to actually bridge cultural gaps and gives us an opportunity to connect cultures and gives us an opportunity to just show the similarities that there are rather than the differences and start creating awareness of the importance that both countries have and the importance that it is for both countries to actually work together and grow together because the potential as partners is so much greater than when we're divided.
Jose Cardenas: David, let's talk a little bit about the March 1st event. And the things that are being built around it. What kinds of activities?
David Alvarez: We will have really exciting race on March 1st, it will kick off at 6:30 with the driver introductions, the national anthem, we will have bobby POLiTO in town, he's a big Tex Mex artist out of Texas to sing the national anthem in English and we'll have a Spanish performer to do the Mexican anthem and they'll also perform post-race. Have a big concert after the race for all of our fans. And of course the big event, the Nascar Mexico race, which will feature a very unique format. It lab 75-lap race, and we will have a 10-minute intermission. We'll do an initial 50 laps, 10-minute intermission and a race to the finish during the final 25 laps.
Jose Cardenas: How many cars will be participating?
David Alvarez: We are going to have roughly 40 cars.
Jose Cardenas: And between now and March 1st, what kinds of things are you doing to get the Spanish-speaking community out there to participate?
David Alvarez: We've done a number of things. For one, we've launched an advertising campaign as of this past weekend through all the different mediums, TV, radio, and print. And we've also got into the community. Joseph talked about our STEM program we've launched in the west valley where 85% of the student base is of a Hispanic dissent and we're helping those kids with as inspirational issues and whatnot, and I think program is great for them. Because we will bring them out to the race, get to meet the drivers, they'll get a behind the scenes tour of the garages and the pits and whatnot, so we're very excited to kind of have this multifaceted attack toward the marketplace.
Jose Cardenas: For those of us who are not young but maybe young at heart and would like to experience a Nascar feeling, there's some opportunities there?
David Alvarez: Sure. As a matter of fact, we will have a very neat opportunity this Friday, where we will select 50 lucky winners to come out to the track and experience that. An actual ride in a stock car. A couple lap with a professional driver, and so that's pretty neat. We'll also have our media members out to experience that. A lot of opportunity for people to come out and experience the speed.
Jose Cardenas: Joseph, I understand we're going to have a number of VIPs here for this event.
Joseph Machin: Yeah. We are. We are fortunate enough that Toyota motors has actually become the title sponsor for the Nascar series. And the president of Toyota USA, the president of Toyota Mexico, we're also hearing that Mr. Carlos Slim will be visiting us, obviously all of the top leaders at Nascar --
Jose Cardenas: The richest man in the world on many lists.
Joseph Machin: The same Carlos Slim. I want to expand on what David was talking, beyond what we're doing at a local level, we've actually implemented the first ever national campaign targeting the Hispanic audience. We just completed the production of seven television spots, we made a significant investment in local stations here,N Phoenix, we're implementing a research program that's going to be a 12-month research program that will end in December, so that we can get more consumer insights and nuggets of information that will help us target our consumers better from 2014 forward.
Jose Cardenas: This is a pretty wide ranging effort.
Joseph Machin: It is. We're actually -- We've implemented this effort under an industry wide program that we have that is called industry action plan. And it's a five-year commitment --
Jose Cardenas: I'm afraid we're out of time. Some other time we'll have you back to talk about that.
Both: Thank you.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." That is our show for tonight. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good night.
David Alvarez:Multicultural Marketing and Communications Manager, Phoenix International Raceway; Pepe Machin:NASCAR Multicultural Marketing Director, Phoenix International Raceway;