NASCAR “telenovela” to debut in April

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Wheel-to-wheel action on the track and a love triangle between drivers off of it are the core elements of one of NASCAR’s latest attempts to woo the Latino market: A telenovela.

“Arranque de Pasion: La Historia de Ela,” which will debut online next month before hitting TV screens in May, takes place in a fictionalized version of NASCAR and stars Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo (pictured) as female racer Ela Rivella, who’s caught between two racing brothers.

North America’s most popular motorsports category has been involved as a co-producer in the project, keeping watch over authenticity and content matters.

“It’s our opportunity to meet [Latinos] where they’re at, within the genres they’re already invested in,” NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing Zane Stoddard told the AP’s Greg Beacham. “I feel like our sport is uniquely accessible in terms of relationships, family and all the things that drive television shows.”

However, it appears that NASCAR is letting the show’s production company handle creation of any dramatic, over-the-top plot twists that come with any proper telenovela, with Stoddard instead mentioning his series’ role as more of a “sounding board.”

“Because the novela is such a specific kind of story, very dramatic, we didn’t want to pretend we understood the kind of storytelling that takes place in [them],” he said. “We know what we know, and we know what we don’t know. We rely primarily on them to begin with the story and then allow us…to layer authenticity over it.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.