Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
The third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires debuted as Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires in 2014. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system, including the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1 million toward the Verizon IndyCar Series with three guaranteed races, including the Indianapolis 500. Team and driver prize packages total over $1.9 million including unique driver awards such as the Tilton Hard Charger, Hi-Tide Kids on Track Spirit Award and Royal Purple Slickest Pass.
The highly acclaimed series, which has a rich history dating back to 1986 as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers, was transformed in 2015 with the introduction of a new equipment package to complement the arrival of Cooper Tires as the Official Tire of Indy Lights and presenting sponsor in 2014.
The Dallara IL-15 is a collaboration between Dallara’s Italian headquarters in Varano Melegari (Parma) and Dallara LLC in Speedway, Indiana. The car offers a modern, stylish appearance and provides the proper training required for drivers as the final step on the ladder to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The chassis is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine. Developed in conjunction with Advanced Engine Research (AER), the MZR-R was first campaigned by Mazda in the American Le Mans Series and Mazda customer teams in the European Le Mans Series. The engine enjoyed several milestone victories including Mazda’s first-ever major success in North American sports car racing and the 2011 LMP1 engine manufacturers’ championship. The engine, further developed by AER, produces 450 horsepower and will last an entire season without a rebuild.
Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing won the 2017 championship and a scholarship valued at $1 million. He will make at least four starts in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
Indy Lights has produced some of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ biggest names during its 32-year history. Its 100+ graduates include reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden, 2010 title runner-up James Hinchcliffe, 2010 fourth-place finisher Charlie Kimball, 2000 champion Scott Dixon and 1997 champion Tony Kanaan to name a few.
More recently, several Indy Lights champions and front-runners have gone on to pursue their dream of racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the famed Indianapolis 500. Among them are 2017 champion Kyle Kaiser, 2016 champion Ed Jones, 2015 champion Spencer Pigot and 2014 champion Gabby Chaves as well as 2014/2015 champion runner-up Jack Harvey, 2017 fourth-place finisher Matheus Leist and 2016 fourth-place and 2014 third-place finisher Zach Veach.
Since 2010, 22 Indy Lights alumni have reached the Verizon IndyCar Series ranks. In 2017, 24 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 were Mazda Road to Indy graduates, 22 through Indy Lights.