When Daniel Suarez finished first at the Sonoma Raceway on June 12, he became the first and only Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup race. So memorable for me, as a Mexican American who grew up on the US-Mexico border – not far from Daniel’s hometown of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon – was also the first time a NASCAR Cup winner celebrated in Spanish by saying, “Nunca te rindas en tus sueños. ” never give up your dreams.
It was a rare moment in the history of NASCAR in the United States
I can’t think of anything more motorsport than regular motor racing. However, NASCAR has a strong following in Mexico, with the country having its own series operating on 12 tracks across the country. Republicaas the state is known to her newborn.
NASCAR has already managed to export the excitement of the grid to Mexico, where the blur of bright colors and deafening sounds of cars spinning around the oval are set against the backdrop of Mexico City or the Sierra Madre Mountains in Monterrey, to name a few.
But NASCAR’s cultural exchange goes both ways. Some of the best drivers from NASCAR Mexico have gone on to compete in the United States, and now one of those drivers is among the best in NASCAR, no matter what country.
I wanted to hear more from Daniel, and talk about what it was like to stand in a network of drivers whose N in NASCAR refers to an entirely different nation. I wanted to talk to family and comfort food from home. And I wanted to ask him how it was like not only competing on the US grid, but winning as well.
Jose: The family is large in Latin America. It may be cliched, but the connection is there for a good reason: we’re late-night people. What is the impact of your parents on your career?
Daniel: They are behind it all. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. Of course, they gave me a lot of support. I think when you’re a kid, you can’t really make your own decisions. It all depends on what your parents do for you, and I think all professional drivers should give credit to their families because we started at such a young age, without our families we wouldn’t have started that way. So, family is an important part of becoming professional drivers.
Jose: Were they the ones who pushed you to be a driver since you were a kid?
Daniel: Well, not just being a driver, but simply becoming who I wanted to be by supporting my decisions.. They didn’t want me to be a driver, specifically. They supported my back no matter what I wanted to be.
Jose: What about your grandparents? apoelos?
Daniel: along the same lines. them too. In fact, they gave as much support as possible early on. It was actually my grandfather who taught me to drive when I was very young. And then, when I moved to the States and started growing up and learning more and more about motorsports in the States, I also got to know many new people. Somewhere in between, I met someone who was just a friend at first, then became my grandfather, then became my manager and now my grandfather/manager/family, and a bit of everything in between. He has helped me so much all my life here in America. If not, I wouldn’t be where I am. He’s been like my dad through it all in the States, guiding me etc. My dad obviously went back to Mexico, so he doesn’t have much experience of life in America. Whenever I had to make important decisions in the United States, I couldn’t go to my father, simply because he couldn’t give me that kind of advice. Gustavo Arenas was the one I have relied on for support from the beginning to the present day.
Jose: Life in either country is very different. My parents are from Mexico too, while I’m from the US, and you’re right. It’s a big change of pace. Life has a different rhythm. When you go back to Monterey, are you tempted to do any driving?
Daniel: Absolutely. Absolutely. Unfortunately I don’t have time to visit often but whenever I get the chance to come back and drive, I do. I go karting a lot, mainly, as part of my training but it’s still very fun.
Jose: Speaking of going back, or bringing it back into the family, do you have any memories of your grandmother’s influence because they were mothers in our culture?
Daniel: Yes, of course. I am very fortunate to still have both my grandmothers. They obviously provide more emotional support. Maybe less support than the competition, or not so much in that sense. But even if they don’t fully follow what’s going on there, their love and support is the greatest of all. The same goes for my mom.
Jose: Yes, of course. For example, my grandmother and mother never learned to drive. But I feel like they’re in my car when I’m driving past a bakery in Texas, because I remember pan dulce They gave me when I was a kid. Grandmothers are everything, the roots of where we bloom. At least for us Mexicans. Although the file Abuelas They couldn’t give you technical advice, what did they teach you that helped you throughout your career?
Daniel: Many things. It’s hard to talk about just one experience, but honestly in general, I’m very lucky to have a big and big family. Starting with my mum, dad, grandparents, grandmothers and sisters. I really think that to compete at this level, you need a great team around you and your family. The sacrifices that have to be made are too great. Not many people see it, but there are a lot of sacrifices to compete at this level.
Jose: Many people who follow sports look outside, perhaps? Or, I only see him an arm’s length away, I suppose.
Jose: When you started racing in NASCAR in the US, did you feel like an outsider among your fellow competitors?
Daniel: Yes always. Obviously, I’ve always felt like a different driver. A driver with different pasts and different experiences. At first, I thought this would put me at a disadvantage. Perhaps it was the first. But over time, I realized I was at a disadvantage because of the way I first learned to race, but being the only Mexican driver in NASCAR actually gave me an advantage. Then I started seeing things a little differently, and things started to go well.
Jose: Did you have to change your perspective to see this feature?
Daniel: Well, no. I didn’t really change my view. I simply learned new things. It was all part of a process, and that was part of it. I don’t really think it’s all about perspective. It was just learning the process. I learned to drive, and I learned that I was the only Mexican, and that it was about helping push Latinos forward, and I went from there.
Jose: Give me an example of what you learned as you went along, being someone who came from Mexico. Things you may not have known but picked up in the US
Daniel: There are many things – language and culture. But also a lot about the competition. The way of competing was very, very different from anything I’ve experienced in Mexico.
Jose: Were US drivers more aggressive?
Daniel: Not necessarily aggressive. It’s just a different style. The paths are different. The cars are different. The racing style is completely different, and I had to learn all of that.
Jose: What is the most unexpected thing you have realized that you and drivers in the United States have in common?
Daniel: Well, I think I fit in naturally because of my competitive side. In fact, this does not change wherever you go. But I think my competitive side is what made me really alike, even in the beginning.
JoseDo you carry a little home with you when you go racing? Is it a Mexican chili fudge or potato chips? Sabritas?
Daniel: I like it, yes. (Laugh) But, unfortunately, no, because I can’t eat that kind of food on the weekend. Occasionally, perhaps. Not weekends, in order to be as clean and sanitary as possible.
Jose: yes. People don’t seem to realize that drivers are athletes. Whether it’s MotoGP, Formula 1, NASCAR, whatever. It negatively affects the body and your health.
Daniel: very large tax. I think people who don’t follow the race don’t understand the fatigue or exhaustion we’re going through, which is understandable because there’s a huge difference between motorsport and any other. You can play most sports in the park or practically anywhere. Unfortunately, motorsports requires a lot of things to practice. Unfortunately, not many people get the chance to have these kinds of experiences.
Jose: the correct. People see motorsports and think of cars, but they ignore the drivers who are ultimately like the heart or the main organ of the machine.
Jose: You have many victories as an athlete and driver at such a high level, but what is your greatest victory as a son and grandson? What is profitable to you in this sense?
Daniel: All the victories were special but I think winning the support of my family was the most important. I think all the sacrifices my family made were important. I really think that if you don’t have a good relationship with your family, then everything else will feel passive. I was fortunate to have a family I could count on. We are alive and well. Together, we still do what we love on the weekends, which is go racing. And go and try to win, and try to succeed. But simply put, having a loving family, being healthy and having fun together, we’re really winning.
This story was created as part of From Our Abuelas in partnership with Lexus. From Our Abuelas is a series that runs across Hearst magazines to honor and preserve generations of wisdom within the Latin and Hispanic communities. Go to oprahdaily.com/fromourabuelas for the full portfolio.