BUSCH: Mexico race raises safety concerns

NASCAR loads up its Busch teams and a few ace Cup stars to head to Mexico City this weekend to usher in the inaugural race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course. While it is exciting for NASCAR to branch out to foreign territories, ...

NASCAR loads up its Busch teams and a few ace Cup stars to head to Mexico City this weekend to usher in the inaugural race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course. While it is exciting for NASCAR to branch out to foreign territories, security is the one thing on everyone's mind.

NASCAR has instructed teams and personnel to stick to the hotel, not travel alone through town and to be picked up and delivered by NASCAR authorized rides. Mexico City is one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Last year, hundred of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets of Mexico City to protest it's every rising crime rate. The march was the largest in the county's history and served as a protest against the kidnappings, murders and other violent crimes that have plagued the city for years.

Marchers wore black ribbons in memory of victims killed during kidnappings and robberies, with some wearing T-shirts or carrying signs with images of the dead.

What a super place to hold a NASCAR event.

Just across the street from one of the main thruways of the track sits a vendor selling bulletproof vests for $20 American dollars. For $20 more, you can sift through a variety of ammunition and arms.

When several crew members went to test in Mexico in January they ventured off property to a local bar and were charged $787 for four beers. It was made clear to them that they could pay the bill or go to jail or worse.

"I used to love everything about Mexico," said a crew member who preferred to remain anonymous. "I've done a 360. It's the scariest place I have ever been."

While drivers think it will be a neat event, even they haven't buried their heads in the sand when it comes to personal safety.

"NASCAR has us all together," said Elliott Sadler who will drive the Yates Busch car this weekend at Mexico. "I am not going to venture out. I am going to follow all the rules.

"Hopefully I will see you guys (media core) in Las Vegas."

It's a make or break weekend for NASCAR who is rumored to be considering moving the Watkins Glen 2006 road course date to Mexico City for the Cup teams if all goes well with the Busch race. They can only pray that transporters make it in and out without incident and randy crew guys don't take it upon themselves to visit local watering holes.

Teams were required to purchase $3,000 worth of insurance from the Mexican government for each transporter. The plan as it stands now is for teams to meet at a UPS warehouse in Laredo, Texas to switch out equipment considering it is impossible for teams to return to Carolina from Fontana this weekend and make it to Mexico City.

Some teams are not relying on NASCAR to be able to supply security for their employees. After the horror show Richard Childress Racing guys faced in January, the team is hiring a private firm to provide security for their teams.

Eddie D'Hondt, General Manager of Robert Yates Racing, decided not to go that route, "I think everyone is nervous because the Childress folks had trouble during testing. As long as we stay in the hotel and get on the bus I think everything is going to be fine. Since it is the first time I think some things have gotten a little overblown."

Yet, NASCAR seems mighty concerned. Transport drivers were gathered in a meeting and given a specific location to meet at before crossing the border. They were also told to stay nose-to-tail, not let any cars in between semis, and not to take it upon themselves to bring any weapons.

The Mexican government has arranged for a military escort for the haulers over the border and to the racetrack.

The race will air on Fox Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern Time Sunday March 6th.

Among the Cup racers making the trek to Mexico are Elliott Sadler, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Rusty Wallace, Robby Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Michael Waltrip.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Robby Gordon , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Yates Racing