1980 Primera Copa Mexico 150 (lost footage of CART PPG IndyCar World Series race; 1980)

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Rick Mears (pictured following his 1988 Indianapolis 500 win) won the event.

Status: Lost

The 1980 Primera Copa Mexico 150 was the 11th and penultimate race of the 1980 CART PPG IndyCar World Series. Occurring on 26th October at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the event was the first sanctioned CART race in Mexico. The race would ultimately be won by Rick Mears in a Penske-Cosworth, following a duel with teammate Bobby Unser.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1980 Primera Copa Mexico 150 was the inaugural running of the event, being one of two CART races to be held in Mexico.[1][2] The other was the 1981 Copa Mexico 150, also commenced at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and was won by Rick Mears.[3] Both races utilised the shorter "Pista 2" course, so that the hairpin section of the circuit could be bypassed. While IndyCar has yet to return to Mexico since 2007 as of 2022, a return appears likely, with support coming from Mark Miles, the President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corporation that controls modern IndyCar.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Unser winning the pole position with a speed of 124.278 mph.[5] Directly behind him was Mears, with Parnelli-Cosworth's Danny Ongais lining up third out of 25 competitors.[5] A total of five Indianapolis 500 winners were present at the event, including Unser, Mears, Longhorn Cosworth's Al Unser, Chaparral-Cosworth's Johnny Rutherford, and Phoenix-Cosworth's Gordon Johncock.[6][5] Meanwhile, Tom Bagley, who qualified ninth in a Phoenix-Cosworth and had previously raced at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez,[5] believed the race would prove popular in Mexico, stating "I would think people here would love Indy cars because of the speeds. When I ran the Camaro, I sensed how popular racing was with the fans. The people are familiar with the Indy 500 and know Formula One well. These cars are basically Formula One types with turbochargers."[6]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1980 Primera Copa Mexico 150 commenced on 26th October.[5] Unser maintained his lead from the start, holding it for the first nine laps before being passed by Mears.[5] Ongais meanwhile crashed out on the opening lap.[5] Mears meanwhile would control proceedings for the next 12 laps, Unser ultimately overtaking him on lap 22, only to be passed himself by Al on lap 23.[5] Al defended the first position for 13 laps, before Bobby again regained the lead.[5]

From there, a duel emerged between Unser and Mears, with the latter overtaking his teammate on lap 44.[5] Unser fought back two laps later, but Mears made what was ultimately the final lead change on lap 47.[5] From there, he defended his lead from Unser for the final 14 laps to claim victory and $21,350 in prize money.[5] Bobby and Al Unser finished second and third respectively.[5] Aside from the 1-2 finish, the race is notable lacking any cautions throughout its duration.[7]

Availability[edit | edit source]

While the race did not receive television coverage in the United States, it is known to have been broadcast on Mexican television.[8] According to Track Forum user chaparral 2k, who researched early CART television broadcasts, the Mexican broadcast was confirmed by a yearbook for the 1981 CART PPG IndyCar World Series.[8] This broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]