The American Dream of Mexican race car driver German Quiroga began to coalesce on Thursday when he signed with a NASCAR team to participate in four races in 2012 and show that Latinos do have a future in this sport.
Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that Quiroga will return to drive the Tundra 51 in the Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR’s third national division.
Quiroga, a three-time NASCAR champion in Mexico, told Efe that although it had been difficult to break into U.S. auto racing he had been working “very hard” to play his best role so far in the sport this year.
“I’m used to winning races and competing in championships and that is what I’m going to continue doing. I’m ready for the new challenge and for my efforts to enable me to complete the whole season in 2013,” he told Efe on Thursday.
The 32-year-old came in 16th in his debut in the pickup division in 2011, demonstrating his abilities in the two races he participated in and his commitment to the sport.
At the beginning of the year, he moved to Charlotte to take part in the workshops with the experts, understand what they are doing, visit the country’s racetracks and speak with the fans.
“I left everything in Mexico and here I started from zero. I’m continuing to learn, but I’m committed to making myself into a successful driver in the pickup series and with the hope of getting to the top divisions,” he said.
Among the challenges that Quiroga has had to face is getting the sponsorship of companies that are betting on Hispanic talent in the United States to reach a market that for several years NASCAR has been considering crucial to its growth.
On that subject, NASCAR announced Thursday that it selected a new marketing firm with the aim of expanding the youth and multicultural segments of its fan base, with special emphasis on Hispanics.
A 2008 study by Knowledge Networks and sports marketing consultancy rEvolution found that just 7 percent of U.S. Latinos are fervent NASCAR fans, while another 38 percent “occasionally” follow the sport.
Quiroga feels that to make NASCAR a major sport for Latinos it must have a “Mexican figure” at the racetracks, a driver that Mexicans - the country’s largest Hispanic community - can get behind.
“It’s all a process,” the Mexico City native said, adding that he hopes that the effort he is making “in the future will open the doors to other Mexican drivers.”
Although Thursday marked an important milestone in his pursuit of his American Dream, Quiroga intends to work hard to compete in the main NASCAR series such as Nationwide and Sprint and hopes one day soon to be named Rookie of the Year.