Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
The Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires debuted as a new series in 2013, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, bridging the gap between the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.
The series’ champion is awarded a scholarship package from Mazda of $790,300 to advance to Indy Lights competition the following year. Victor Franzoni of Juncos Racing claimed the 2017 title and will advance to Indy Lights this year with the team.
The new Mazda-powered Tatuus PM-18 will make its competition debut this season, completing a revitalization of the entire Mazda Road to Indy. State-of-the-art chassis are in service across the board including the Dallara IL-15, which debuted in Indy Lights in 2015, and the Tatuus USF-17 that was introduced to rave reviews last season.
As a means of containing costs, the Tatuus USF-17 also serves as the base car for the PM-18.
Enhancements over the USF-17 include more sophisticated aerodynamics with an adjustable dual-element rear wing and single-plane carbon fiber front wing with adjustable flaps and Pro Mazda-specific front and rear endplates; larger Motegi Racing forged Technomesh monoblock alloy wheels with Cooper tires (13”x10” fronts and 13”x12” rears); and a 275 HP 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-PM18A motor developed by Elite Engines, utilizing a fly-by-wire throttle system and Cosworth SQ6 engine management system. The power will be delivered via a Sadev SL82 six-speed sequential transmission and limited-slip differential.
The PM-18 will be the series’ standard for at least the next five years. It replaces the Elan Pro Mazda chassis which was introduced in 2004 and provided the basis for a long list of talented young drivers to develop their skills, including Marco Andretti, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Graham Rahal.
The series has served as a vital step on the career path of many of today’s top drivers since 1991. Graduates include Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Gabby Chaves, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot, Graham Rahal and Zach Veach, NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell, 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand, rising stars Aaron Telitz, Nico Jamin and Santi Urrutia, and sports car drivers Dane Cameron, Connor De Phillippi, John Edwards, Jack Hawksworth, Joel Miller and Tristan Vautier to name a few.