August 8, 2011 / 9:47 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico eyes return of Formula One racing

* No races in Mexico since the early 1990s

* Mexico has tracks but needs upgrades (Adds quote from FIA head, racing years)

By Cyntia Barrera Diaz

MEXICO CITY, Aug 8 (Reuters) - A Mexican entertainment company hopes to bring back the globally popular Formula One motor races to Mexico after a two-decade hiatus due to the high price of hosting the international events.

“It’s being studied,” Carlos Slim Domit, the son of the world’s richest man Carlos Slim, told Reuters on Monday.

Slim Domit, a die-hard racing fan who also sponsors Mexico’s auto association, is a member of Formula One’s regulating body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which is working with Mexican company CIE (CIEB.MX) to promote the return of the races.

He said the Hermanos Rodriguez track, in the eastern part of Mexico City, could be one of the locations for Formula One races in the future.

The track is operated by CIE and has hosted Nascar races.

It is mostly used for huge concerts or baseball games and a big investment would be needed to upgrade it to Formula One standards.

Mexico has hosted 15 Formula One races in the past. The first in 1963 until 1970, and again from 1986 to 1992 at the Hermanos Rodriguez track but discontinued the competitions in part because of their high price tag.

Slim Domit, head of the board of Telmex TELMEXL.MX TMX.N, Mexico’s biggest fixed-line and Internet company owned by his father, said another option could be a street circuit in the city of Guadalajara, in western Mexico.

The Slim family is heavily invested in car racing, sponsoring a team of drivers in local and international racing categories like Formula One, GP2 and Nascar Mexico under the Telmex brand.

One of the team’s members, Sergio Perez, recently signed to drive in Formula One with the Sauber team.

Formula One races are among the most widely watched in the world, generating millions of dollars in advertising and sponsorship deals.

In Latin America, Brazil is currently the only host.

FIA President Jean Todt also hinted that Formula One could return to Mexico but did not provide any details.

“Today Mexico has a strong economy and I am convinced that in the future this will be possible,” Todt told a news conference last week in Mexico City.

“We know that racing is costly. There are a series of criteria that need to be met for the event, most importantly security (on the tracks),” he said.

CIE operates the Mexico City horse racing track as well as electronic bingos and sport betting books in casino-like halls, and has long coveted the dream of bringing the international event to Mexican soil. The company had no immediate comment.

A plan to build a Formula One-ready track in the popular Caribbean beach resort of Cancun bombed about a decade ago.

In April, a source told Reuters that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O) was in early talks with Carlos Slim about forming a consortium to acquire control of Formula One. [ID:nN1932340]

Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Richard Chang, Bernard Orr

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