Red Flag: NASCAR goes to China

NASCAR has a solid reputation as a race series firmly entrenched in the southern United States, but has been fighting hard to defeat that image and branch out of Old Dixie. With races lined up in such northern locations as Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, NASCAR has long since established itself with the yanks, but with races planned for Mexico and Montreal, the good ol' boys are looking to expand internationally, as well.

It seems that south and north of the border isn't far enough, however, as NASCAR officials recently made a trip half-way around the world to China in order to look into reaching the biggest potential audience in the world.

NASCAR insists that they're not looking to set up a top-tier Nextel Cup race in China, just some junior series events. You've got to figure they've got their sites set on something more ambitious than that, however. The last venture into the Far East finished in 1998 after NASCAR held three annual exhibition races in Japan.

The international expansion forms part of a bigger campaign NASCAR has been waging to establish itself as a top-tier racing series, and the recent defection of F1 stars like Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve hasn't hurt any, either. No doubt that NASCAR has also been keeping a close eye on competing race series, including Formula One, which has been setting up more international races each season; ChampCars, which is planning a return to Europe; and most of all the Speedcar Series, which is gearing up for races across Asia in American-built stock cars.


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