Meet the man who bridges JGR and Mexico's top drivers
August 19, 2014, Mike Hembree, Special to NASCAR.com
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Although Carl Edwards was the central figure at a Tuesday press conference announcing his 2015 move to Joe Gibbs Racing, the man sitting several seats from him on the podium carries much more clout.
Carlos Slim Domit, chairman of the Mexican conglomerate Grupo Carso, is part of one of the world's richest families. He was at the press conference in support of Mexican driver Daniel Suarez and in partnership with Gibbs' newest sponsor, ARRIS, which produces broadband and video technology.
Domit's father is Carlos Slim Helu, who, at various times in recent years, has been ranked by business magazines as the world's richest person. He owns a wide range of international companies but perhaps is best known for development of telecommunications businesses, particularly in Mexico and Latin America.
Slim has been involved in motorsports for many years and was part of the organization that worked with NASCAR to run Nationwide Series races in Mexico City from 2005 to 2008. His Escuderia Telmex group promotes Mexican drivers, and JGR said as part of Tuesday's announcement that it will work with Telmex to develop more minority drivers.
Slim's group has been involved with drivers German Quiroga, Jose Luis Ramirez and Memo Rojas, among others.
"To have a man with the influence and power and means that Carlos Slim has, that’s very positive for us to have him here," said NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, who attended Tuesday's press conference. "He and his dad are both racing fans, and both are really supportive of what we're doing.
"They have a very tight relationship with (NASCAR chairman) Brian France, and that's healthy for us. Having those friendships and working relationships are an important part of the success of any program we have in Mexico.
"The partnership that has been created between JGR and Carlos Slim will bear fruit for us as a sport overall."
Domit called Tuesday's JGR announcements "one more big step in our history in motorsports."
"We started in the early '80s in motorsports, and it's a sport where the attachment between the sport and the sponsor is very close. The race track is an extension of our offices."
Slim's group has been a sponsor in Chip Ganassi's sports car operation.
Its emphasis in NASCAR circles, Domit said, is to put talented drivers like Suarez, newly named to JGR's Nationwide driver corps, at the top levels of NASCAR racing.
"We're a driver development group that looks for opportunities for Mexican and Latin American drivers," he said. "We've had really good success with the NASCAR Mexico Series and moving drivers forward. Daniel is the latest example of that.
"We want to continue working in that direction with our best drivers and teams."