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 now 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 Mazda Road to Indy is the only driver development program in the world to feature a champion’s scholarship at every level to advance to the next step on the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series with three guaranteed races including the Indianapolis 500. Team and driver prize packages total approximately $2 million.
The highly acclaimed series, which has a rich history 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 collaboration between Dallara’s Italian headquarters in Varano Melegari (Parma) and Dallara LLC in Speedway, Ind. 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, will produce 450 horsepower and last an entire season without a rebuild.
In 2017, Indy Lights will be featured on 10 weekends alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event, marking a total of 16 races with doubleheader rounds on the streets of St. Petersburg, at Barber Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course), Road America, on the streets of Toronto and at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Indy Lights will contest single rounds at Iowa Speedway, Gateway and Watkins Glen.
Ed Jones of Carlin, the reigning Indy Lights champion, will drive for Dale Coyne Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017.
For more information on the Indy Lights Series, visit www.indylights.com.