PALMETTO, Fla. – The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will return to the track this week with over 35 drivers on deck for a pair of official series tests at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, and Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.
USF2000 will kick off a busy week of activity May 7 with a two-day outing at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course, sharing track time with Firestone Indy Lights. Pro Mazda competitors will take over the circuit on Thursday for a full day of testing. All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will be competing at Mid-Ohio in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series on August 3-4.
Prior to a one-day test for USF2000 and Pro Mazda at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval, drivers will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third annual Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic on Friday. The clinic covers all aspects of the intricacies of oval racing, supported by video footage, and serves as an introduction for drivers who will be turning their first oval laps the following day and as a refresher course for others.
The first oval events of the season for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will take place this month with the Firestone Freedom 100 for Firestone Indy Lights on May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the “Night Before the 500” at Lucas Oil Raceway for USF2000 and Pro Mazda on May 25.
Hosted by INDYCAR Director of Grassroots Initiatives Jason Penix and led by multiple driving champion and noted driving coach Gerardo Bonilla, the clinic continues its tradition of providing a panel of experts to share their knowledge and experience. This year’s panel features INDYCAR President of Competition Beaux Barfield, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team owner and former driver Sarah Fisher, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, Mazda Road to Indy graduate and current IZOD IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden and INDYCAR race steward and Cooper Tires Technical/Driver Consultant, Performance Advisor and spokesman Johnny Unser.
“This week’s testing and oval clinic are just the start of what has become a great month of education for our drivers with the final segment of the Mazda Road to Indy Summit around the Indy 500,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter for USF2000 and Pro Mazda. “Incredibly, INDYCAR continues to enhance what is already a great Summit program, providing a fantastic opportunity for our drivers to learn from industry experts on a variety of topics that will help them as they move up the ladder.”
The Mazda Road to Indy Summit will take place on May 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will feature seminars on Media Relationship Building with Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star; Performance Thinking with Dr. Jacques Dallaire of Performance Prime; Simulator Training with Kelly Jones and Peter Olrich of RaceCraft1; and Return on Investment with John Doonan, Director of Motorsports at Mazda North American Operations, and Dean Case, MAZDASPEED
Motorsports Communications Officer. On May 22, drivers will have the opportunity to attend a fitness and wellness course at PitFit Training hosted by owner Jim Leo.
The first part of the Summit program was held during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and included media training with Sportscast Stars Training, a Mazda Business of Motorsports seminar with Doonan and Case, and a Building a Successful Brand course and Team Talk with IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy graduates James Hinchcliffe and Tristan Vautier, respectively.
Additional activities this month include pace laps for the Firestone Freedom 100 race on Carburetion Day by current Pro Mazda points leader Matthew Brabham and USF2000 points leader Scott Hargrove.
The winners of the Firestone Freedom 100 and “Night Before the 500” races will also be interviewed on the Victory podium minutes before the start of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500.