CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NASCAR will stage its first points-paying event outside the United States in a half-century when the Busch series races next year in Mexico City, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported Wednesday that the race is scheduled for spring at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a 2.786-mile road course that hosts Champ Car events.
The series also will return after a three-year absence to the road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The entire schedule for the Busch series is expected to be released today.
In going to Mexico City, NASCAR will continue its expansion into new markets. First-year chairman Brian France is trying to bring the top-tier Nextel Cup series to the New York City market and has expressed interest in Mexico and Canada.
With 36 points races, the Nextel Cup schedule is considered full, so the junior-level Busch series was the logical choice to test a foreign market.
NASCAR officials visited the Mexico City track several times this year, furthering speculation they were close to a deal.
"We are looking hard at Mexico," France said last month. "Mexico is in large measure the gateway to the Hispanic race fans. Mexico, for a lot of reasons, is an important country, has to be important to us, more so than countries that are further away."
France said at the time any deal to bring the Busch series to Mexico City would be a multiyear contract.
NASCAR has raced outside the United States, most recently staging nonpoints exhibitions in Japan. A forerunner of the Nextel Cup series held points events in Canada in the 1950s, but the Busch series has not ventured beyond the borders.
The Watkins Glen race is expected to be held in September, the same weekend the Indy Racing League will debut on the road course.
INDYCAR: Champion Scott Dixon and teammate Darren Manning join a long list of star athletes whose likenesses have appeared on cereal boxes. Dixon appears on boxes of Wheaties, marking a first for an IndyCar Series driver. Those boxes are sold exclusively in Target stories. He will also appear with Manning on Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes. All 800,000 cereal boxes will also have information on the IndyCar Series.