MEXICO CITY — Racing and its aficionados have their own “culture, and among the features that made the recent Mexican Grand Prix look and feel different were the wide-brimmed Mexican “charro” hats that the top three drivers wore on the winner's podium after the race.
Emblazoned with the Pirelli logo, the hats replaced the baseball caps that drivers traditionally wear while receiving the winner's and two runners-up trophies. Understandably, on this occasion the hats were not thrown into the crowd as the champagne corks popped and delirium kicked in — a fate often met by the more commonplace baseball cap.
And on the subject of baseball, the redesigned, re-surfaced Grand Prix race track passed through the middle of the Foro Sol stadium, which doubles normally as a baseball park and rock concert venue.
The stadium seating layout gave an estimated 30,000 fans — out of a total of 120,000 at the circuit — a unique, close-up view of the racing while the atmosphere created was akin to that of a packed bullring during a bull fight. The crowd roared its approval every time national racing hero Sergio (Checo) Pérez appeared in his Force India car.
And adding to the festive atmosphere, there were mariachis, along with an indigenous children's choir from the state of Oaxaca and a military band. Pirelli's perimeter advertising was conspicuous and featured prominently during TV coverage of the Grand Prix.
Fox Sports broadcast the event in Latin America and in one unusual video had F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton flinging himself about the ring in a one-one wrestling match with a masked opponent. It was, to say the least, hilarious.
Wrestling has a large following in Mexico.
Stephen Downer is a Mexico-based freelance writer who covers that country and Latin America for Tire Business and its Latin America e-newsletter.