NASCAR: From southern roots to the southern hemisphere, and beyond

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WVLT) -- Southern roots? Yes. But the days of NASCAR being strictly southern have long passed.

The sport now races coast to coast...and continent to continent.

NASCAR Mexico was established south of the border in 2004.

In 2005, NASCAR went racing in Mexico City for the first time.

And the sport continues to race further south.

"The following of NASCAR is very big in Brazil," Roberto Figueroa, a Brazilian journalist that covers NASCAR, said.

In recent years, Figueroa has witness NASCAR's growing popularity in South America. He said TV broadcasts in 2006 started the boom. A four-time Sprint Cup champion's visit accelerated it.

"In 2008, Jeff Gordon went to a go-karting event in Brazil with all the F1 (Formula One) drivers and that was also a big boost to the NASCAR popularity."

"NASCAR (popularity) not only in South America but in the Latin community has grown a lot. NASCAR has really done a good job at it. They are really looking for that diversity," Juan Pablo Montoya recently said at the Sprint Cup Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Montoya, from Columbia, is a Sprint Cup driver for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

While while NASCAR has rocketed in this hemisphere, don't expect it to make a pitstop in Europe. NASCAR'S busy racing schedule makes that virtually impossible. Beyond that, though, taking the series over the Atlantic Ocean would be a logistical nightmare.

"Somehow we got to get this whole circus over there and I just think that's too big of a feat to pull off," Jimmie Johnson, a five-time Sprint Cup champion, said.

However, one day race fans might find NASCAR's brand overseas.

Wolfgang Monsehr, owner of the German-based Rennsportpresse Agency, says England and France are entertaining the thought of running a European NASCAR championship series.

"NASCAR is coming up," Monsehr said. "You see more reports about NASCAR. People (in Europe) are paying more attention to what's going on in America."

Soccer rules in Monsehr's home country, with Formula One racing a strong second. He's followed motorsports for 42 years, he prefers covering NASCAR over Formula One.

"I would love to make more races as a journalist. If people knew how easy NASCAR is, treatment for spectators and for media, I would say Formula One would pay a lot of attention not to lose its market.

"People are easy to approach, drivers, crew chiefs, track officials. It doesn't need to change."

NASCAR is currently shown in 150 countries.


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