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NASCAR revs marketing engine for millennial, Hispanic audience

By in Press Enterprise on February 2, 2018

By Richard K. De Atley

When Gilbert Ornelas was growing up in Fontana, he could hear the engines’ roar from what was then the California Speedway, where NASCAR has raced since 1997.

Twenty years ago, Ornelas did not fit the profile of the average NASCAR fan, but that has changed. He’s all in — originally a Jimmie Johnson fan (California guy, drives a Chevrolet) and more recently following Mexican driver Daniel Suarez.

“Come on — how many Mexicans are in NASCAR? And he is driving a Toyota, and I am not a Toyota fan. Look at what I am sacrificing to be with this guy! But if this guy wins a championship, it is going to draw a lot of Mexicans into it,” he said in a telephone interview. He says he will still follow Johnson as well.

Ornelas, 35, recently married, living in La Habra and working as a freight forwarding operator, said he plans to be at the Monster Energy Cup Series Auto Club 400 race March 18 at what is now the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Fortunately for Ornelas, the race is scheduled a few days before he and wife Jessica start their honeymoon.

  • “The Fastest Sunday of the year” poster for the Monster Energy Cup Series Auto Club 400 race March 18, 2018 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana emphasizes the entire experience of the race weekend.

  • The start of the NASCAR Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sunday, March, 20, 2016. ORG XMIT: RIV1603201430455798

    The start of the NASCAR Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sunday, March, 20, 2016. ORG XMIT: RIV1603201430455798

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