Miles: IndyCar’s “clear focus is on North America”

Penske Entertainment Corp.’s president and CEO Mark Miles has stated that IndyCar will remain focused on its home continent for now, despite the international flavor of its rising stars.

Miles: IndyCar’s “clear focus is on North America”

At the 2021 finale in Long Beach this weekend, he was asked about venturing outside of the U.S., especially in light of the fact that the championship this year is being fought between Spain’s Alex Palou and Mexico’s Pato O’Ward.

“Anything is possible,” he replied, “but for now, our clear focus is on North America. You can think of it as driving to races – so like Canada. I think México could fit that description. We're not actively down the line in developing that possibility, but it's something that we could imagine.

“I think it's much less likely that we do a flyaway international race in the short-term. There would be advantages, but until we feel like we're closer to our potential in North America, our home market, we think we can make international progress through the licensing of the media rights and sponsors, teams, drivers coming in. But I think we probably need to focus on racing in North America.”

O'Ward himself has admitted he regrets there has been less interest in IndyCar in Mexico than he expected, after scoring his first two wins and battling another Hispanic driver for the title.

The Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver told Motorsport.com: "I feel like the fan base is growing. But being very honest, I feel like it's been a lot quieter than it should be. If this was happening in Formula 1, even people who don't have phones would know about it!"

Palou, listening to his rivals comments, expressed surprise given the proximity of Mexico to the U.S. but admitted he has found his home nation, too, has taken a long time to pay attention to IndyCar.

"I was going to say that Pato has had more following from Mexico compared to [me in] Spain but I see that he also has the same mentality as I do," said the Ganassi driver. “There are people who are discovering IndyCar, but maybe the non-specialized media have given us no visibility.

“But I think it's a problem in general, not only in my country. I hope little by little we can convince more media and more people to follow the category."

Asked if the chicken should come before the egg – holding races in Mexico or Europe to raise interest there – Palou was cautious, O’Ward more forthright.

"The product is incredible,” said Chip Ganassi Racing’s championship leader. “Maybe in Spain and Europe we're a little far from being able to go there, but it's a very big step for the championship to make.”

“I'm on board with making the category international again,” said the 21-year-old Mexican. “It's the way for it to grow, for there to be more interest from around the world, like it was before. I feel the series has so much potential that we should try to exploit it. You don't see IndyCar's level of competitiveness anywhere else.

"I don't know what else people want. The two that are fighting for the championship, one is Spanish and one is Mexican. I don't know what else we can do on our part to try to have a race in Mexico, possibly in Spain."

Palou and O'Ward (here with Newgarden) are dueling for the Astor Cup, presented to the championship winner. But right now, neither of them are sparking as much interest in their native countries as they hoped.

Palou and O'Ward (here with Newgarden) are dueling for the Astor Cup, presented to the championship winner. But right now, neither of them are sparking as much interest in their native countries as they hoped.

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

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