McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown wants IndyCar races in more countries, but doesn't want to go global like F1

Zak Brown
McLaren Racing CEO Zak BrownChuck Burton/AP
  • IndyCar has benefited from the surge in popularity in motorsports as TV viewership and attendance is up.

  • As F1 expands its footprint in the US, it could be time for IndyCar to move in the opposite direction.

  • McLaren CEO Zak Brown would like to see IndyCar expand internationally, but he doesn't want to leave the Americas.

The popularity of IndyCar is surging, and the next step may be to expand the borders of the North American open-wheel racing series.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who runs teams in IndyCar and Formula One, would like to see more countries host IndyCar races, but he doesn't want to see the series go global like F1.

Of IndyCar's 17 races on the schedule for the 2022 season, 16 are in the US, with just one international race in Toronto. Brown would like to see races in Mexico and maybe even South America.

"I'm not a fan of leaving the Americas," Brown told Insider before the Indianapolis 500. "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 gotta 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 to 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 favor of."

Another possibility is Argentina.

According to Marshall Pruett of Racer, a group representing the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo road course in the province of Santiago, recently met with IndyCar officials in hopes of bringing the series to Argentina. That circuit already hosts a MotoGP event, and the country last hosted an IndyCar event in 1971.

IndyCar is riding the motorsports surge in the US

TV ratings for IndyCar races this year have been the highest in 19 years, even before their marquee event, the Indianapolis 500, according to Forbes. Some have credited F1's growing popularity in the US for bringing more attention and interest to motorsports.

F1 has taken advantage of the surge by expanding its presence in the US with two races this year, in Miami and Austin, and adding a third in 2023 in Las Vegas.

The growth of F1 in the US will mean more money for the sport. Claire Atkinson of Insider reported that several broadcasters, including current rightsholder ESPN, along with Netflix and Amazon, which are all in a bidding war for the next F1 TV deal in the US.

Mark Miles, the president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corporation, which owns the NTT IndyCar Series, has also mentioned a return to Mexico. IndyCar last raced in Mexico City in 2007 and would mark a more manageable trip than going to South America.

"We've long seen Mexico as a market where we could imagine racing," Miles said, according to Motorsport. "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."

One of Brown's Arrow McLaren drivers is Pato O'Ward of Mexico, one of the top drivers in the series.

"I always tell everybody, if we go back to Mexico, it's going to be a sold-out event, and it's going to be awesome!" O'Ward said in 2021.

Pato O'Ward
Pato O'Ward of Arrow McLaren leads the Indianapolis 500.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

O'Ward led the IndyCar championship race late in the 2021 season. That led to a deal to air the final three races of the season nationwide in Mexico. O'Ward eventually finished third but celebrated the broadcast deal at the time.

"This is really exciting news," O'Ward said. "Knowing millions of my countrymen can watch on broadcast television gives me added energy and fight to celebrate a title with them."

Maybe they will be able to see him in person in the near future.

Read the original article on Insider