What is the Mazda Road to Indy?
In 2018, the vast majority of the Verizon IndyCar Series grid will be comprised of drivers who have come through the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires – one of the most successful driver development programs in the world. Alumni such as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden will align with recent graduates including Gabby Chaves, Jack Harvey, Ed Jones, Kyle Kaiser, Matheus Leist, Spencer Pigot and Zach Veach.
Providing a unique, scholarship-funded path to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500, the Mazda Road to Indy will distribute over $3.5 million in prizes and awards this year to help drivers take the next steps in their careers.
Since its launch in 2010, the INDYCAR-sanctioned ladder system has attracted competitors from around the globe. Drivers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Guyana, India, Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela have been part of the grids, showcasing their talents at premier venues on a mix of road courses, temporary street circuits and ovals.
Spencer Pigot became the first four-time Mazda scholarship winner having captured four titles in six years on the Mazda Road to Indy. The 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion earned a prize valued at $1 million with a guaranteed three-race program in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 including the Indianapolis 500 by claiming the title, and this year enters his third Verizon IndyCar Series and first full season with Ed Carpenter Racing.
The scholarship program for each series’ champion is unequaled anywhere in the world. For 2018, the Indy Lights champion will once again earn a guaranteed minimum of a three-race program for the following year’s Verizon IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500. The Pro Mazda champion will receive a scholarship of $790,300 to advance to Indy Lights and the USF2000 champion will receive a scholarship of $325,000 to graduate to Pro Mazda.
Launched in 2016, the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout is an unprecedented event bringing together junior level open-wheel and karting champions from around the world to vie for a $200,000 Mazda scholarship to jointhe Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. Throughout the year, nearly 400 drivers from 20 open-wheel racing championships on six continents will compete for an entry ticket to the Shootout.
Oliver Askew, who earned his entry ticket via the Team USA Scholarship, won the inaugural Shootout and parlayed his USF2000 debut with Cape Motorsports into the champion’s title and a second Mazda Scholarship which will see him make his Pro Mazda debut this season.
Keith Donegan, 20, of Dublin, Ireland, is the reigning Shootout champion, earning his ticket via the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England. Donegan will make his USF2000 debut with Arms Up Motorsports
The Progression Steps
The first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder is the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, a revival of the highly regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006. The goal of the series is to provide a professional, entry-level open-wheel training ground serving as the first step on the ladder to a Verizon IndyCar Series career.
From there, drivers move on to the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, formerly known as the Star Mazda Championship, which has developed IndyCar Series stars Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal amongst others including NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand.
From Pro Mazda, drivers move into Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. For over 30 years, Indy Lights has been a vital step for competitors to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in America, boasting over 100 drivers as graduates.
Andersen Promotions oversees all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires. The company has a long and successful background in promoting open-wheel championships and has also owned multiple race teams – including USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights teams – in the past. In 2010, Andersen Promotions relaunched the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, which it operated from 1992 through 2001. In December of 2012, Andersen Promotions founded the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires to replace the void left by the Star Mazda Series which ceased operations after 22 years. On July 12, 2013, it was announced that Andersen Promotions would take over the licensing and operation of Indy Lights from INDYCAR beginning with the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season.
Principals of Andersen Promotions include Dan Andersen, Owner/CEO, and Michelle Kish, COO.
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