Photo of the 1999 IndyCar race in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Getty Images

IndyCar downplays Brazil’s announcement of Rio race in 2020

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Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella excitedly announced Thursday that the Brazilian city will host an IndyCar race in 2020.

Crivella revealed the street race would pass through Rio’s iconic sambadrome, which is where the majority of 120,000 spectators and floats pass through during Brazil’s annual Carnival festivities.

There’s only one problem: no one from Brazil seemed to tell IndyCar about the race.

Perhaps looking to steal some of the thunder from Sao Paulo’s Brazilian Grand Prix Formula One race this weekend, Crivella’s announcement was made without any input from IndyCar.

When NBC Sports reached out to IndyCar regarding Crivella’s announcement, the sanctioning body released the following statement from Stephen Starks, IndyCar Vice President, Promoter and Media Partner Relations:

“We are always exploring first-class cities to host our events, and the sport has had exceptional races and racers from Brazil.

“However, at this point we are only exploring the possibilities that might exist in that country.”

IndyCar first raced in Brazil in 1996 at the Jacarapegua racetrack, where the Rio Olympic Park was later built upon.

IndyCar’s last Brazilian race was 2013 in Sao Paulo.

The city of Brasilia was slated to host an IndyCar race in 2015, but the event was cancelled shortly before it was to be held.

Still, it’s no secret that Brazil wants IndyCar back racing within its borders, particularly since three drivers of Brazilian heritage are currently competing in the series: Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist and Pietro Fittipaldi.

Also, Helio Castroneves, who switched from a long career in IndyCar to IMSA for the 2018 season, is also a Brazilian native and major fan favorite.

It’s unclear where Brazil and IndyCar go from here.

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F1 races in Austin, Mexico City hitting financial rough patches

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two of Formula One’s three races in North America are facing financial issues that are raising concern about their future.

Organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix won’t get at least $20 million from the state of Texas for the 2018 race after missing a paperwork deadline set by state law. And new questions lurk about the future of the Mexican Grand Prix after the country’s new president suggested the government may not spend on the race like it has the last four years.

Both races have been popular with drivers and fans, and have enjoyed key dates on the F1 calendar. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched season championships in Texas in 2015 and in Mexico City in 2017 and 2018.

Officials in Formula One and at the Circuit of the Americas, host of the U.S. Grand Prix, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.