What: Off-road racing events like the Norra Mexican 1000 and teams like Vildósola Racing have earned the attention of mainstream partners in Mexico and beyond.
Why it matters: The fun, renegade atmosphere at rallies and loyal fan base can be attractive to brands, not just those with direct automotive ties.
Off-road motorsports have a tradition of camaraderie, partying and fun. Events or rallies like the Norra Mexican 1000 bring together thousands of enthusiasts and fans and dozens of drivers for week-long celebrations of the sport. And while the sport maintains a grass-roots feel and renegade roots, international brands are taking notice, scooping up drivers and creating their own events and organizations, fueled in many cases by social media.
One such example is Hoonigan (@TheHoonigans), a community whose slogan “We’re about this life: Cars. Fun. And Debauchery” maybe isn’t meant to be taken 100% literally. But almost. For the past two years, FIAT (@fiat) has teamed with Hoonigan in a search for its latest brand ambassador, this month announcing that up-and-comer Micah Diaz of Corona, Calif., has earned the honor. The Hoonigans Wanted Challenge selected Diaz after a 10-driver challenge in four California locations, whittled down from hundreds of entries worldwide.
…[B]rands are connecting with this community, many of them Latinos.
“Congratulations to Micah Diaz for winning the Hoonigan’s Wanted search,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America. “And special thanks to all of the passionate enthusiasts who took the time to showcase their abilities.”
While the Hoonigans are tearing it up—and preserving it all, from the build breakdowns posted on YouTube—other brands are connecting with this community, many of them Latinos. Yokohama (@YokohamaTC) is the title sponsor of the Mexican 1000, with automotive companies like Savvy Off Road, Steel-It, Walker-Evans and Rigid among the event’s partners. Known as “The Happiest Race on Earth,” what started with 68 entries in Baja in 1967, has grown into an industry all its own. The 2019 National Off Road Racing (NORRA) event will be held from April 25 (tech and registration) through May 3 (Awards at San Jose del Cabo).
The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.
“The challenge was intense, but competing in the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth was an awesome experience and really pushed me as a driver. Also, the other competitors brought their A-game, which made this event even more rewarding,” said Diaz in a statement.
One of the sport’s premier organizations is Vildosola Racing (@VildosolaRacing), named for Gustavo Vildósola and sons Javi and Tavo, a Red Bull-sponsored athlete from Mexicali, Baja, Mexico, who was one of the celebrity drivers who helped select Diaz in the Hoonigans Wanted competition. With a set of sponsors which includes national Mexican brands like Mexlog (logistics), BraNix (@branixtech) (technology/consultants), Inter Protección (@interproteccion) (insurance brokerage), Vildosola has found more than a niche within racing; it has attractred partners in mainstream industries that want to tap into its fervent fan base across Mexico and into the U.S.
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Cover Image: Micah Diaz/FIAT