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The 3 Countries NASCAR Is Looking to Race at in the Future

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR’s vice president and chief international officer Chris Seigler recently sat down with Jim Utter of Motorsport.com to talk about the future of NASCAR racing internationally. Aside from mentioning how close NASCAR is to hosting a race internationally, he mentioned three specific countries NASCAR is eyeing, Mexico, Canada, and Brazil. Which one would be best suited to host a Cup Series race?

  • NASCAR already has a presence in all three countries. NASCAR has hosted lower series races in both Mexico and Canada, and they have international series in Mexico, Canada, and Brazil. All three countries have rich motorsports history.
  • NASCAR’s international momentum started in the summer of 2023 when Garage 56 debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since then, speculation has run rampant that NASCAR would hold a Cup Series race outside of the U.S., something that has not happened since July of 1958 according to Racing Reference.
  • Fans are interested to see whether or not an international race will happen shortly. Many guessed that there would be one in 2024, but, that did not materialize.

Canada

Of all of the countries on this list, this seems like the most likely place for the Cup Series to race because Canada has had the biggest National Touring Series presence of any of the three countries. The NASCAR Xfinity Series raced in Montreal from 2007-2012, and the Truck Series raced at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park between 2013 and 2019. That’s over a decade since NASCAR had a race in Canada, and one can only wonder if that streak could have continued without the global pandemic.

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Regarding race tracks, there are plenty of short ovals NASCAR could renovate across the country, but the most likely place would be Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Xfinity Series raced there for many years, and the track hosts the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix every year. A stadium race could be interesting as well because Canadian football fields are bigger than American football fields, so, a stadium race could happen in Canada as well.

The problem with Canada would be scheduling it. With Canada being as far north as it is, the only viable window for a race is the summer. Formula One already has a weekend in June, so, NASCAR would have to squeeze the race likely in July or August. This means they have to schedule around races like the Brickyard 400, the Chicago Street Race, and even Iowa Speedway.

Still, this would be a great place for NASCAR to bring the Cup Series back to, yes, I said back to. The Cup Series technically has 2 races in Canada under its belt according to Racing Reference, one in 1952 at Niagara Falls, and another in Toronto in 1958 (Richard Petty’s Cup Series debut). As limited as NASCAR’s international history is, Canada is the most prominent focus of it.

Mexico

While Canada has the deepest National Touring Series presence on this list, NASCAR bought into what is now the Mexico Series in 2004, three years before the current Canada Series. NASCAR has been investing in Mexico slightly longer than they have been investing in Canada, and, the Cup Series currently has a Mexican on the grid, Daniel Suarez.

Aside from a stadium or street course, The track list for Mexico is similar to Montreal, with a few ovals but the most likely candidate being an F1 track. Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez hosts the Mexico Grand Prix every year, and it hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series between 2005 and 2008. Current NASCAR starts Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch are all former winners there, and Juan Pablo Montoya got his first NASCAR win at the venue.

The question with Mexico is that racing has been a bit of a “Comes and goes” type of sport. Formula One was out of the country between 1992 and 2015, IndyCar has come and gone, so have sports cars, and even NASCAR has. Canada has been a consistent mainstay of motorsports for decades while Mexico has not.

Even then, Mexico’s generally warm climate means a race could be held there at any time of year. There is flexibility, local support, and presence on the Cup Series grid.

Brazil

Brazil is a bit of a new player in NASCAR’s international expansion. NASCAR acquired “GT Sprint Race” in 2022, and has since formed “NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race”. It has a rich motorsports history with famous drivers including Ayrton Senna, Tony Kanaan, and Felipe Massa.

The most likely track to host this event, aside from a stadium or street course, would be Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Interlagos) in Sao Paulo. This has been a mainstay on the Formula One calendar since the 1990s, and the winding turns and elevation change make this an incredible venue to watch a race. The actual racing product is usually quite exciting as well, and NASCAR’s Brasil Sprint Race competed at the venue as well.

The issue with Brazil is that NASCAR is still relatively new to the country, and it would be the farthest trek for the teams. While teams could still theoretically drive their equipment haulers to Mexico or Canada, Brazil is too far for that. Is NASCAR prepared for that type of travel?

Brazil is probably the underdog in this scenario. It would be cool, but, it’s also difficult logistically. Still, there should be local support for it.

Which of these countries could NASCAR race at beyond 2024? Is there another country they could look to?

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