As the world’s leading driver development program, the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will reach a milestone this year, celebrating its 10th anniversary as the stepping stone to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500. In 2019, 26 graduates of Road to Indy series were on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES grid as were 23 of the 33 starters in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The three rungs of the ladder – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – have been instrumental in providing exceptional training and development to take drivers to the pinnacle of the sport.
Reigning Indy Lights champion and Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew and Indy Lights vice champion and Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus VeeKay went from karts to IndyCar in under four years via the Road to Indy program. 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward and vice champion Colton Herta are just some of the additional alumni set to contest the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season alongside Jack Harvey, Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist, Conor Daly, Charlie Kimball and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden to name a few.
An increase in prize money and awards will see over $2.7 million distributed this season to help drivers in their ascent. The Indy Lights champion will earn a scholarship valued at $1 million that guarantees entry into a minimum of three NTT INDYCAR SERIES events in 2021, including the Indianapolis 500, while the Indy Pro 2000 champion will be awarded a scholarship valued at $609,245 and the USF2000 champion a scholarship valued at $328,225.
“The Road to Indy has done more for me than anything else in my career and that’s saying a lot,” said reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood who will graduate to Indy Lights this year with Andretti Autosport. “I’ve won scholarships in karting, Skip Barber and the Team USA Scholarship, which really got the ball rolling three years ago, as well as F4 and F3. But the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 scholarships, the chance to race in Indy Lights, it means the world to me.”
Road to Indy TV, the broadcast production arm of the Road to Indy, will ramp up with expanded global exposure this year featuring over 60 hours of live coverage, live and on demand shows on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku as well as the Road to Indy TV App and social media channels.
“The Road to Indy has clearly carved out its niche as the pathway to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Jonny Baker, Series Development Director. “It’s rewarding to see drivers like Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay take their next steps while acknowledging how important our ladder system has been in their progression. The Road to Indy has assembled all the key components for success, from its sanctioning by INDYCAR and support from IndyCar Race Control to the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team, it’s great schedule of events and tremendous partners like Cooper Tires, who are so passionate about helping drivers succeed. Dan Andersen [Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions] has assembled a program that is truly the path for drivers in professional motorsports, and it’s exciting to see what the next 10 years will bring.”
The Road to Indy will welcome several new Official Series Partners in 2020 including Bell Helmets, Sabelt, SimMetric Driver Performance Labs and Rotiform wheels in addition to the launch of the Construction Contractors Club, an events and networking organization which will allow its members to entertain and network at Road to Indy events alongside the NTT INDYCAR SERIES courtesy of The Andersen Companies.
The Lucas Oil School of Racing became the Official Racing School of the Road to Indy in 2019 and is the first step on the ladder system, offering its champion a scholarship into the USF2000 series.
“So many people have contributed to the success of the Road to Indy and I have to thank first and foremost our tremendous partners, especially Cooper Tires, and those who have been on board with us all these years as well as Mazda and INDYCAR and also our teams,” said Andersen. “It is tremendously rewarding to watch drivers literally grow up in our series and graduate to successful careers in motorsports, and to watch our teams grow and expand up the ladder.
“Our model has created a unique and successful platform and we look forward to continuing to strive to be the best in all that we do for our partners, teams and drivers. The Road to Indy is where career-minded drivers need to be.”
The 2020 Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season will kick-off with its annual Spring Training at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 7-9 followed by the season-opener for all three series on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., March 13-15.