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NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series to debut in Phoenix

Pictured from left to right in front of the pace car are NASCAR Mexico driver Jorge Goeters, NASCAR Mexico car owner and driver Hugo Oliveras, two-time World Champion boxer Fernando Vargas and NASCAR Mexico driver Daniel Suarez, who is the current points leader in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series will make it's United States debut at a March 1 race at Phoenix International Raceway, the organization announced Tuesday.

The race is part of the Subway Fresh Fit NASCAR Sprint Series Weekend at the track.

Arizona-Mexico Commission President Larry Lucero said the event will bring big bucks to the Valley.

"With the two annual races that you already conduct here, the economic impact is nearly a half-billion dollars," said Lucero. "This is not small potatoes."

Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor said hopes the race will improve relations between Arizona and Mexico that have deteriorated because of Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070.

"We do not have the best image in this state," Pastor said. "Hopefully, the people of Arizona will not only welcome the Mexican drivers and their teams, but also the sports fans that will bring their pesos to the west Valley and also into central Phoenix."

Two-time World Champion boxer Fernando Vargas will drive the pace car for the race and said he is excited.

"Never in my life have I ever driven a pace car, but do you want to bet that I'm going to drive the hell out of this one!" Vargas told a laughing crowd at Phoenix' Royal Palms Resort.

The race will be televised in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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