PALMETTO, Fla. – The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires has unveiled its 2018 calendar of events.
The driver development program, which offers more than $3.5 million in scholarships and awards, will continue its momentum at premier road course, street circuit and oval venues in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The highly acclaimed platform – comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will enter the new season with a trio of state-of-the-art chassis on display, including the much anticipated debut of the new Pro Mazda PM-18 which completes the revitalization of the entire ladder system.
On deck for 2018 is a return to the Pacific Northwest and Portland Int’l Raceway in Portland, Oregon.
The 1.967-mile, 12-turn permanent road course will host the season finale for all three series. Indy Lights last raced at PIR in 2001, and Pro Mazda and USF2000 in 2006. The last IndyCar race at the facility took place in 2007.
The month of May will bring several new additions. Pro Mazda and USF2000 will return to Lucas Oil Raceway for the Carb Night Classic: The Race Before the 500 after a year’s hiatus.
Mere hours after the conclusion of Carb Day activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 – including the Freedom 100, the crown jewel on the Indy Lights schedule – the two series will make their appearance on the .686-mile oval.
Additionally, the three Indianapolis oval races will see an increase in points for all series for the first time, and an increase in prize money.
In Pro Mazda, the National Class will be replaced by the Pro Mazda Classic Series – a six-weekend, 12-race championship within the Pro Mazda Championship utilizing the older Pro Mazda rotary-powered cars from 2002 to 2017. The series will see a separate points chart, prize money and year-end awards.
While there is no limitation on PMC Series testing, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 will see amended testing rules.
Indy Lights in-season testing is restricted to two days per team with two additional days available for use with current Pro Mazda and USF2000 drivers. Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams are permitted four days of in-season testing per driver but not at tracks yet to hold an event.
Each series will continue with open tests at select venues.
The annual Mazda Road to Indy Spring Training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 23-26. Indy Lights will test on the 1.5-mile oval on Feb. 23 and the 2.21-mile road course on February 26.
Pro Mazda and USF2000 will run on the weekend, Feb. 24-25, to assist young drivers juggling their schedules alongside school commitments.
The Mazda Road to Indy Summit program – providing valuable education on a variety of topics including marketing/business, media training, career growth and development, fitness, social media and a comprehensive oval clinic – will continue to be in place next season.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into our schedule and I am pleased with the balance we have in place to properly train drivers to move up the ladder,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We are excited to have Portland on the schedule, which will be a great circuit for our season finales in the three series, and to return to Lucas Oil Raceway on Carb Day for a great night of racing. The Freedom 100 is obviously the biggest race on our calendar and to be able to bring Pro Mazda and USF2000 back into the excitement surrounding the Indianapolis 500 was key. Increasing both the points awarded and the prize money gives these events the weight they deserve.
“The Mazda Road to Indy will take on new life next year with the competition debut of the PM-18. This completes the process we began several years ago to provide the best for our competitors with state-of-the-art race cars. We have a great program in place and it’s working. As always, I am looking forward to seeing many of our drivers take their next steps up the ladder including our recently crowned champions.”
Indy Lights will feature a 17-race schedule at 10 venues comprised of three oval, five road course and two street circuit events.
Pro Mazda will expand to a nine-event, 16-race schedule which includes two ovals, five road course and two street course venues.
Lastly, the USF2000 series will continue with a 14-race format held at seven venues featuring one oval, four road course and two street circuit events.
Full schedules for all three Mazda Road to Indy divisions can be viewed on the next page…