Mario a big fan

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, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

Maybe the Edmonton Oilers could use the services of Mario Dominguez.

The Mexican-born-and-raised racer once stepped off an airplane here when it was -30C. And, still, he keeps coming back.

The frozen stop was part of a whirlwind six-day, six-city promotional tour in the middle of February for the then-Champ Car series.

On the frozen tarmac, a local Mexican ex-patriot that had come to the stop-drop-and-fly-away event gave Dominguez a parka to wear. You can bet a parka isn't a gift one Mexican gives to another very often.

IN TOWN

That's why Dominguez was in town yesterday, helping to plug the Edmonton Indy, the extension of the Grand Prix after Champ Car was folded into the IndyCar series.

"It's part of what a series does, try to have drivers promote the series and the races at different venues," Domiguez said.

"I'm so happy that they chose me to be here. I guess because I've raced here and I like it so much."

Promotion is something every driver learns they have to do (Formula One excepted!) for their own careers, for the series they are driving in.

It's one of Dominguez's strengths. Even in a second language, he's not exactly the shy and reserved type.

"Exactly. I'm so shy maybe they say, 'That's good. He won't say too many bad things,' " he joked.

But he doesn't joke when he is quizzed by those coming here for the first time.

"The drivers that haven't been here, they ask me a lot about the race, the track, the venue, and I tell them it's just awesome." he said yesterday.

"To come here, it's a lot of fun for the drivers, too. I mean there's so many things going on around outside the actual race that it makes it a lot of fun. It keeps the drivers busy because there's a lot of promotions and that, but it's enjoyable because there's so much enthusiasm from the people here.

"I talked to some of the people from IndyCar, some of the marketing people, because they want to put a race in Mexico City. And I said, 'If you want to go to Mexico City, you want to put up a similar event. And I showed the Edmonton example - like it's not just a race, there's things going on around that makes it fun for spectators, the people, the town. So that's the sort of event that IndyCar has to put up at every city they go to. Use this kind of example."

RACING BRAIN

It's Dominguez's veteran knowledge that likely helped him secure a ride this season, when so many Champ Car drivers were looking for one.

He is piloting for Pacific Coast Motorsports, a team that was in its first year in Champ Car last year and has jumped into the new IndyCar series.

But he's still an ambassador.

"My sponsor is Visit Mexico City and Mexico," he said of the tourist bureau.

"So it's also a big responsibility to represent my city and my country. They always come (to talk to me), the (Mexican) fans. Now that I'm sponsored by the country, it's even bigger."

So, too, he believes open-wheel racing will be now that the fracture is finally on the mend.

"Now IndyCar is on its way up. All the talk is positive. You can see it on the ratings, you can see it in the attendence at the races. It's a big deal now that the series are back together. And I think it will get back to where it was before. It will take some time to build, but if you remember back before it burst, IndyCar was bigger than NASCAR.

"So who knows? Maybe it will get back to that level. But it will take some time."


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