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Mexico Grand Prix to Build on Day of The Dead Theme

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July 25, 2017

The 2016 Mexican Grand Prix (Formula 1 Gran Premio de México 2016) was a Formula One motor race run on October 30, 2016 at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. (Photo: Jose Mendez / EPA)

London - Mexican Grand Prix organizers are planning to bring more of a flavor of the country's Day of the Dead festivities to the 2017 race, after previous reticence due to Formula One's inherent danger and tragic past.

The October 29 race precedes the annual 'Día de Muertos' holidays, now a big tourist draw, in which Mexican families remember their dead and celebrate the continuity of life.

Mexican Grand Prix marketing head Rodrigo Sanchez said: "This year we want to play up the Day of the Dead a little bit more. Since the first year we have been thinking about doing things. We weren't very sure how this was going to look from an international perspective, because obviously it's a sport that has its risks."

Finding that connection

Formula One's most recent driver fatality was in 2015, the year Mexico returned to the race calendar after a 23 year absence, when Frenchman Jules Bianchi died of head injuries sustained in Japan the previous year.

Another casualty was Mexican Ferrari driver Ricardo Rodriguez, who died in 1962 in a crash at what is now the country's Grand Prix circuit, named after him and his late brother Pedro, who won two Grands Prix before his death in a sports car race in Germany in 1971.

"Since year one we were like 'maybe we should do something to commemorate the Rodriguez brothers'," said Sanchez. "We were looking to do stuff around there, just basically trying to bridge and find that connection between Formula One, motorsports and Day of the Dead."

Mexico drew 135,000 spectators on race day in 2016 - second only to British circuit Silverstone's 139,000 - with about 30 percent of them foreigners.

The race is backed by the government, which pays the hosting fees to Formula One and sees it as an important driver for tourism and Mexico's image abroad.

Sanchez said a recent economic report put the benefits to the city and country of the race, which follows immediately after the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, at around $750 million a year.

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