Catching up with the Mazda Road To Indy – Volume 2

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Mazda Road To Indy, with a couple of more busy weeks expected before news quiets down for the holidays.  There are MRTI meetings in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show currently underway in Indianapolis.

Two big announcements will take place on Thursday: 1) an engine partner is announced for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series and 2) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announces their driver slate.

The announcement of an engine parter is great news.  This will be the first time that the Indy Lights series will have a named engine partner since Infiniti dropped their naming of the Indy Pro Series in 2006.  An active engine partner should provide the series and drivers with increased exposure, which in turn improves the return on investment of all sponsors.  The aphorism “A rising tide lifts all boats” is what applies in this instance.

The introduction of the new IL-15 Dallara appears to be starting a much needed reniscance for the top rung of the Verizon IndyCar Series ladder.  Renewed interest from old teams, new teams, drivers and fans has created an audible buzz, that seems to grow with each new announcement.

Registered teams for Indy Lights include: 8Star Motorsports, Andretti Autosport, Belardi Auto Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport, Carlin, Conquest Racing, Dragon Motor Racing, Fan Force United, Juncos Racing, McCormack Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/ Curb Agajanian and Team Moore Racing.

Announced Indy Lights drivers include:

  • Felix Serralles for Belardi Auto Racing
  • Ethan Ringel for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
  • Spencer Pigot for Juncos Racing
  • Kyle Kaiser for Juncos Racing
  • Shelby Blackstock for Andretti Autosport

The first official test of the IL-15 is scheduled for Palm Beach International Raceway for January 13/14, 2015.

Further testing will take place on January 26-29, 2015 on the road course and oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Expect another update this weekend after the PRI show in Indianapolis.

All the News

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire

Moving on up

Juncos Racing will be adding two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire to their stable.  They will be driven by Kyle Kaiser and Spencer Pigot. (Photo courtesy of Juncos Racing)
Juncos Racing will be adding two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire to their stable. They will be driven by Kyle Kaiser and Spencer Pigot. (Photo courtesy of Juncos Racing)

Reigning Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire team and driver champions, Juncos Racing and Spencer Pigot will be making the move to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series as a pair.  They will be joined by a familiar face, as Pigot’s Pro Mazda teammate Kyle Kaiser will also be making the jump to the more powerful machines.

Pigot, from Orlando, Florida won six races during his sophomore Pro Mazda campaign to secure a hard-fought championship over rival Scott Hargrove.  The former karting champion, who just turned 21, also has two Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda vice-championships to his name.  Pigot will have a familiar voice on the radio as he will be joined by his engineer from Pro Mazda, Ernie Gonella, who has been with Juncos racing since it was founded.

18 year old Kaiser had a breakthrough season in 2014, scoring a victory and four podiums on the way to 6th place finish in a very deep Pro Mazda field.  After a successful karting career the Santa Clara, California native made the move to cars in 2011 by competing in the Skip Barber Racing Series.  That was followed in 2012 by a move to the Pro Formula Mazda class of the Formula Car Challenge where Kaiser scored eight victories in 14 races on the way to a dominating championship.   Kaiser’s engineer in Indy Lights will be experienced Verizon IndyCar Series assistant engineer Michael Armbrester.  The IUPUI engineering grad has experience with KV Racing Technology, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and most recently at Dale Coyne Racing.

Juncos Racing pilots Spencer Pigot and Kyle Kaiser get ready to race (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Juncos Racing pilots Spencer Pigot and Kyle Kaiser get ready to race (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The Brownsburg, Indiana based team will be making their second foray in Indy Lights after three different drivers made an appearance for the team during the 2012 season.

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Follow Spencer Pigot –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Follow Kyle Kaiser –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Championship winning team returns

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Early in the off-season it was not a certainty that Andretti Autosport would return to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship.   But the 2008 and 2009 Indy Lights champions recently confirmed their intention to participate in the 2015 championship.

The first driver for the Indianapolis based team will be no stranger to Andretti Autosport fans.  Shelby Blackstock will be part of the Andretti family for the fourth straight season after spending one year in Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda and two seasons in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire.

“I am very happy to be back with the Andretti Autosport team for the 2015 Indy Lights season,” Blackstock said. “I’m extremely excited to test the new IL-15 and to see if all the great expectations are true. I want to thank Andretti Autosport for giving me the opportunity to be in one of its cars this year – this team is like a second family to me. I hope there is a lot of success to come from a completely fresh season.”

The newest Andretti Autosport Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire driver Shelby Blackstock gets ready for battle.  (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
The newest Andretti Autosport Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire driver Shelby Blackstock gets ready for battle. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The 24 year-old who didn’t get his start in racing until after his freshman year of college is coming off two successful Pro Mazda seasons that saw championship finishes of third and fourth.  In that two year span the Nashville, Tennessee native scored one win, 13 podiums and 27 top tens.

Blackstock will be the 17th different driver to pilot an Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car.  The previous 16 drivers have scored two championships and 29 race wins.  11 of those drivers have gone on to pilot a Verizon IndyCar Series car including current drivers: Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Sebastian Saavedra.

Follow Andretti Autosport –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Follow Shelby Blackstock –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

The British are coming, the British are coming!

 

British junior formula stalwarts Carlin will be entering the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series in 2015 (photo courtesy of Carlin)
British junior formula stalwarts Carlin will be entering the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series in 2015 (photo courtesy of Carlin)

Fans of various Formula 1 feeder series certainly know the Carlin name, but it is a name that will not likely be familiar to North American open wheel fans.  That’s about to change as Trevor Carlin announced that he will be bringing his championship caliber team to U.S.A. to take part in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series in 2015.

The team currently competes in Formula 4, Formula 3, GP3 and GP2.  The 18 year old team has plenty of experience working with series partners Dallara (GP2, GP3 and F3), AER (GP3) and Cooper (Avon) Tires (F3).

The Farnham, United Kingdom squad will be working out of Poughkeepsie, New York and plans to utilize personal from the U.K. and U.S.A.

Racing Director Carlin said,  “We’re extremely excited to be taking the Carlin team to the U.S. and embarking on this new challenge into the Indy Lights series. We’ve had one eye on the U.S. for some time now and the time is right to widen our focus.  We’re seeing more and more drivers look across the Atlantic from categories such as Formula 3 and GP2 Series to careers in Indy Lights and IndyCar and it makes sense as a European team to offer that route to our customers.

Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that have driven for Carlin include:

  • Mikhail Aleshin
  • Richard Antinucci
  • Conor Daly
  • Carlos Huertas
  • Charlie Kimball
  • Mario Moraes
  • Tiago Monteiro
  • Josef Newgarden
  • Hideki Noda (with Team Japan in A1GP)
  • Will Power
  • Graham Rahal (with Team Lebanon in A1GP)
  • Takuma Sato

The team which has won drivers championships in: British F3, Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3 will announce their pilots at a later date.

Follow Carlin –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Pro Mazda

Defending champions announce three

2015 will mark Juncos Racing seventh season in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship.  The Brownsburg, Indiana based team is coming off their most successful season, winning the team championship and the driver’s championship with pilot Spencer Pigot.

Leading the way for the Ricardo Junco’s owned team will be veteran Pro Mazda talent José Gutiérrez.  The Monterey, Mexico native made his Pro Mazda debut as only a 16 year-old in 2013, scoring top 10’s in all four races that he contested.

Jose Gutierrez will return to Juncos Racing for a sophomore season. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Jose Gutierrez will return to Juncos Racing for a sophomore season. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

A full Pro Mazda campaign in 2014 ended on the highest of notes, with the 18 year old scoring his maiden victory in the last race of the season at Sonoma Raceway.  He rode that win, another podium and 13 tops tens to a 7th place championship finish.

Will Owen was the second driver to commit to a Juncos Racing Pro Mazda Campaign.  The 19th year old made his Mazda Road To Indy debut in 2014, scoring a victory and three top 10 finishes in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship.

USF2000 race winner Will Owen will be joining the Juncos Racing effort for 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
USF2000 race winner Will Owen will be joining the Juncos Racing effort for 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The Castle Rock, Colorado native began his karting career in 2010 and got his first taste of a formula car while winning three Formula Mazda races in the Formula Car Challenge championship.  Owen who is currently a freshman at Texas Christian University recently tested with Juncos Racing at MSR Houston.

Timothé Buret will be joining fellow Frenchmen Nico Jamin and Florian Latorre in the Mazda Road To Indy.  The 19 year-old from Montpellier France got his first taste of North American racing when he tested with Juncos Racing at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September, 2014.

Timothe Buret will be making the move from France to the USA in 2015 (Photo Couresy of Timothe Buret)
Timothe Buret will be making the move from France to the USA in 2015 (Photo Couresy of Timothe Buret)

Buret scored seven wins and 12 podiums in a variety of V de V Sports series including the open wheel Challenge Monoplace series.

Follow Juncos Racing –> Twitter  Instagram

Follow Jose Gutierrez –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Follow Will Owen –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Andretti Autosport picks up Canuck sophomore

Andretti Autosport will contest their fifth Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire Championship season with Pro Mazda sophomore Dalton Kellett behind the wheel of the No. 28 K-Line machine.

Dalton Kellett stays in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire for another season but moves from Team Pelfrey to Andretti Autosport. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Dalton Kellett stays in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire for another season but moves from Team Pelfrey to Andretti Autosport. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The 21 year old scored one podium and nine top 10’s while driving for Team Pelfrey in the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship.

Kellett started racing karts in 2008 and winning numerous championships made the move to cars in 2011, bringing home third place in the hotly contested Ontario Formula Ford Championship.  In 2012, Kellett made the move to the Mazda Road To Indy when he joined the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda.  In his two seasons on the bottom rung of the “ladder” he was able to come home with eight top tens while driving for Pabst Racing.  Kellett also made one Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire start in 2011 for Pabst, scoring a top 10 at the tricky Baltimore Inner Harbor street circuit.

The native of Stouffville, Ontario has not forgotten about his studies as he is entering his fourth year of university at the prestigious Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.  He is studying engineering physics.

Follow Andretti Autosport –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Follow Dalton Kellett –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

USF2000

Team Pelfrey Branches Out 

Team Pelfrey, a Palmetto, Florida based squad will be adding a third branch to their open wheel racing tree.  The former Verizon IndyCar Series team that was reborn in 2011 will be adding a three car Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda program in addition to their Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire and F1600 Championship teams.

Team Pelfrey are adding a USF2000 program to their growing stable that includes Pro Mazda and F1600 ((Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Team Pelfrey are adding a USF2000 program to their growing stable that includes Pro Mazda and F1600 ((Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The Dale Pelfey owned and Nighel Tuckey managed team, who won the 2011 and 2012 Pro Mazda team championship will announce their drivers at a later date.

Follow Team Pelfrey –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

John Cummiskey Racing to test two Australian Formula Ford stars

Australians Jordan Lloyd and Anthony Martin will be testing Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda machinery at NOLA Motorsports Park on December 8th and 9th with John Cummiskey Racing (JCR).

Lloyd is an 18 year old from Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power’s hometown of Toowoomba won six races on his way to the vice-championship of the Australian Formula For Championship.

This is the rig i will be driving. She's a brand spanker getting set up on the patch #newcarsmell #dontscratchit #MRTI

A photo posted by Jordan Lloyd (@jordan.lloyd.94) on

Martin, a 19 year-old, won the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship in 2014 and was the vice champion and 2013 Rookie of The Year.

JCR contested four USF2000 races in 2014, and scored an impressive seventh place finish in Toronto with Canadian Driver Nathan Blok.  Cummiskey has decades of experience in the Verizon IndyCar Series as a chief mechanic with Team Penske, Team Green Racing, Newman-Haas Racing and Dragon Racing.

Follow John Cummiskey Racing –> Facebook

Follow Jordan Lloyd –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Follow Anthony Martin –> Twitter  Facebook

Gabin wins Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda seat 

The third annual Skip Barber Championship Scholarship Shootout saw Luke Gabin take home a $200,000 Mazda Motorsports scholarship that he can use to move his career forward in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series.

Needing to win the final race, the 19-year old Australian made a last lap pass of  Jorge Herrera to just edge Michai Stephens in the final points tally.  The championship is a cumulation of five races, media interviews and instructor evaluations.

Gabin recently tested with the newly formed Team Pelfrey USF2000 team.

Follow Luke Gabin –> Twitter  Facebook

Cape Motorsports with /WTR set slate for 2015 

The all white cars of Cape Motorsports with /WTR are a familiar site in Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda victory lane.  Drivers from the St. Petersburg, Florida based team led by Nicholas and Dominic Cape have won the last four USF2000 trophies.  The team recently announced that their drivers for the upcoming 2015 season would be Nico Jamin and Aaron Telitz.

Jamin celebrated his 19th birthday by announcing that he be contesting his sophomore USF2000 season in the No. 2 Cape Motorsports with /WTR entry.

Nico Jamin will contest his sophomore Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda with Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Nico Jamin will contest his sophomore Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda with Cape Motorsports with /WTR (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The Rouen, France native split the 2014 USF2000 season between Belardi Auto Racing and Pabst Racing, scoring one podium and ten top 10’s on the way to a ninth place championship season.

Jamin also has experience in the French F4 Championship and Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship.

Telitz, from the small town of Birchwood in northern Wisconsin, is the reigning USF2000 rookie of the year.  His 2014 campaign with ArmsUp Motorsports included one victory and five podiums on the way to a fourth place championship finish.

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda Rookie of the Year will move to the powerhouse Cape Motorsports with /WTR team for the 2015 campaign.  (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda Rookie of the Year will move to the powerhouse Cape Motorsports with /WTR team for the 2015 campaign. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

A recent Team USA Scholarship winner, Telitz also has experience in Skip Barber and the F1600 Championship Series, where he scored a third place finish in 2013.  Telitz also won the Skip Barber Championship Shootout in 2013.  That victory earned him a $200,000 Mazda Motorsports scholarship that he used to move up to USF2000 series.

Follow Cape –> Twitter  Facebook

Follow Nico Jamin –> Twitter  Facebook

Follow Aaron Telitz –> Twitter  Instagram  Facebook

Other Tidbits

– Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire vice-champion Jack Harvey was recently award the Earl Howe Trophy from the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC).  Named after Le Mans Winner and co-founder of the BRDC, the award is presented to the highest placed British driver in the Indianapolis 500 or to the British Driver who has established the most meritorious performance of the year in North America.  Previous winners include: Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson and Dan Wheldon.

– On December 8-9 2015, NOLA Motorsports Park will host the first open wheel test on their modified circuit in preparation for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. The 2.67 mile, 13-turn track will play host to Andretti Autosport (1 Pro Mazda car), Team Pelfrey (2 Pro Mazda cars & 2 USF2000 cars) and John Cumminskey Racing (2 USF2000 cars). The track will also play host to the entire Mazda Road To Indy for Cooper Tires WinterFest on February 18-20, 2015.

– Andersen Promotions and Green Savoree Racing Promotions have agreed on a partnership that will see the Mazda Road To Indy appear at Green Savoree promoted races for the next two years.  Those events currently include the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the Honda Indy Toronto and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

– Andersen Promotions recently announced a four year union with VP Racing Fuels, which will see the leader in race fuel technology supply Motorsport 100 fuel (unleaded gasoline with 10% ethanol) to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series in 2015 and the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire & Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda in 2016.  The San Antonio based company was founded in 1975 by Steve Burns and they also suppliesfuel for the: Pirelli World Challenge, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, NHRA Championship Drag Racing and World Of Outlaws Sprint Cars.

– The new Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire car will utilize the the Braille MICRO-LiTE ML20C Lithium battery from Mazda Road To Indy partner Braille Battery.    The batteries we developed in Formula 1 and are also used exclusively in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the entire MRTI.  Batteries from the company, located in Sarasota, Florida, can be found in Formula 1, NASCAR, Verizon IndyCar Series, FIA WEC, V8 Supercars and more.

– Reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire champion Gabby Chaves was recently a double winner in the prestigious 6 Hours of Bogota race in his home country of Colombia.  He spent a total of four hours behind the wheel, and took home the overall victory as well as a class victory in Super GT.  His co-driver in the Super GT car was fellow Colombian and Indy Lights driver Juan Piedrahita.  Chaves will also be testing a Verizon IndyCar Series machine with Bryan Herta Autosport in the near future.

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Catching up with the Mazda Road To Indy – Volume 1

Felix Serralles confirmed

2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire championship team Belardi Auto Racing have confirmed that Felix Serralles will be piloting an IL-15 for the Brownsburg, IN based squad in 2015.

Felix Serralles will contest the 2015 Indy Lights season with Belardi Auto Racing. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Felix Serralles will contest the 2015 Indy Lights season with Belardi Auto Racing. (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

The 22 year-old  is currently contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and has scored 14 top 10 finishes during the current campaign.  2014 is the fourth season that the Ponce, Puerto Rico native has spent racing in Europe after starting his career stateside.  His experience in the United States includes: contesting races in Skip Barber, and the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series.

“Signing with Belardi for 2015 is an exciting new adventure for me,” offered Serralles, who has been living in Corby, UK. “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the United States and racing, after five years in Europe. The experience that I’ve gained from the European competition will definitely benefit me during the switch back to the US and the Indy Lights series. I’m looking forward to working with Belardi again, as they’re committed and dedicated to winning championships. One of my reasons for returning to the US is to expedite my progress and become a professional in IndyCar in 2016 and this does not preclude my being available to run Formula 1 in the future, as Juan Pablo Montoya did successfully.  Being provided with the opportunity to run with Brian and his staff has played a huge part in this decision as well.”

 

An 18 year-old gets the ultimate birthday gift.

Race car driver Parker Nicklin  got everything he was hoping for on his 18th birthday; a driver development deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

According to a report in the the Las Vegas Journal-Review, the driver development deal consists of “a ride in an introductory series for Indy-style cars, and then if he wins a couple of races, he probably moves up to Indy Lights the next year.”

Parker Nicklin recently signed a driver development deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Nicklin Motorsports)
Parker Nicklin recently signed a driver development deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Nicklin Motorsports)

Nicklin contested two Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire races in 2014.  In two races at Sonoma Raceway he gained a total of ten spots on the way to two top 15 finishes.  The Henderson, NV native is also has also spent 2014 competing in the Pro Formula Mazda category of the west coast based Formula Car Challenge, and currently sits in 2nd place in the championship with one event left.  Nicklin also has experience competing in Skip Barber seasonal series.

Nicklin is heavily involved in an anti-texting initiative called “Just Let It Ring”

8Star confirms two

“8Star has placed an order for our first Indy Lights car. It will be among the first batch of ten cars from Dallara due to be delivered mid-November and the 8Star team will evaluate drivers at the first official Indy Lights test at Sebring in December. 8Star Motorsports’ 2015 plan is to run a two-car Indy Lights program and expand its successful TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge campaign from one to two entries, based on customer interest. Also, under current evaluation is a P2 program. Several parties are working to unite their efforts for a solid attack on the 2015 TUDOR Championship,” explained Gary Neal, 8Star Motorsports Team Manager.

8Star Motorsports, owned by Enzo Potolicchio, are a TUDOR United SportsCar and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship staple, who also take part in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The IL-15 of 8Star Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
The IL-15 of 8Star Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

As reported by Motorsports Talk, current 8Star Prototype Challenge stand-out Sean Rayhall could very well be tabbed to helm one of the brand new Dallara IL-15’s for the Pompano, FL based squad.  “There’s meetings and steps in the right direction to do Indy Lights, with long races in the NAEC,” he said. “It would be a return to my roots after Skip Barber, there’s guys like Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly that I know.

8Star Motorsports team manager Gary Neal (Dreyer & Reinbold and Ganassi Racing) and lead engineer Yves Touron (Dreyer & Reinbold, HVM & KV) both have an extensive background in open wheel racing.

 Season Recaps

Road to Indy TV has done a great job of documenting the entire Mazda Road To Indy 2014 season and recently put together three short video’s that do a great job of recapping each series successful season.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda

Testing… Testing… 1, 2, 3

All three rungs of the Mazda Road To Indy tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test on the 13th and 14th of September.  I did a full in-depth report of the test for TrackSide Online, that you can check out if you are a subscriber. (If you aren’t a subscriber, I promise that if you are an IndyCar fan, it will be the best $22 that you will spend each year).

Some teams are also conducting private testing.  Here a few tests that we’ve caught wind of.

  • Jacob (Jake) Parsons recently tested in Pro Mazda with Cape Motorsports with /WTR at Sebring International Raceway.  The young Australian is currently leading the way in the Asia Cup Series and has also made appearances in the Formula Masters China and Australian Formula Ford series this year.
  • Dalton Kellett will get behind the wheel of an Andretti Autosport Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire machine at Putnam Park on Monday, October 6th.  Kellett, a 21-year old from Stouffville, Ontario, just completed his rookie Pro Mazda season, scoring nine top 10’s on the way to a 10th place championship finish

Official Mazda Road To Indy series tests get started in December.  You can find the full schedule below.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Testing

Date Track Location Info
Dec. 16/17, 2014 Palm Beach International Raceway Jupiter, FL Schedule
Jan. 26/27, 2015 Homestead-Miami Speedway Homestead, FL Schedule
Feb 18/19, 2015 NOLA Motorsports Park Avondale, LA Schedule
Feb 24/25, 2015 Barber Motorsports Park Birmingham, LA Schedule

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire Winterfest

Date Track Location Info
Feb 19/20, 2015 NOLA Motorsports Park Avondale, LA Races 1, 2, & 3 — Schedule
Feb 25/26, 2015 Barber Motorsports Park Birmingham, LA Races 4, 5, & 6 — Schedule

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda

Date Track Location Info
Feb 19/20, 2015 NOLA Motorsports Park Avondale, LA Races 1, 2, & 3 — Schedule
Feb 25/26, 2015 Barber Motorsports Park Birmingham, LA Races 4, 5, & 6 — Schedule

 

Telitz & Stephens will represent the U.S.A.

The red, white and blue will be well represented in the UK at the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy Races by Team USA Scholarship winners Aaron Telitz and Michai Stephens.

Telitz, a 22 year-old, spent the 2014 racing season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series, where he won Rookie of The Year honors on the way to a fourth place championship finish.  Winning scholarships is nothing new for Telitz.  The Birdwood, Wi. native bested the competition in the Skip Barber Championship Shootout and took home the $200,000 MazdaSpeed driver development scholarship that went with it, thereby allowing him to compete in the USF2000 championship.   Telitz will be no stranger to the Formula Ford platform as he took home third place in a hotly contested F1600 championship series battle during 2013.

You NEVER see Aaron Telitz without a big grin on his face.  Here, he is getting ready for a Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race a Sonoma Raceway (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
You NEVER see Aaron Telitz without a big grin on his face. Here, he is getting ready for a Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race a Sonoma Raceway (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)

“It is a huge honor and achievement to be chosen as a winner of the Team USA Scholarship,” said Telitz. “Not only do I now have the opportunity to race in Europe, I get to do it representing the United States of America. If you look at the history of previous winners of the Team USA Scholarship you’ll see there are some big shoes to fill. I look forward to the challenge and learning as much as I can during this awesome experience.

Stephens, a native of Evanston, Ill is a perfect example of how following your dream can pay off.  The 22 year-old parlayed a Skip Barber INDYCAR Academy Shootout (for racers with no previous racing experience) victory into a seat in the Skip Barber Summer Series, which in turn led to his Team U.S.A. nomination and chance to test a Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda car during the recent Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Being selected to represent the Team USA Scholarship in 2014 is mind-boggling to me,” added Stephens. “I will forever cherish this honor with the understanding that with great opportunity comes greater responsibility. I encourage everyone who has a vision to go out there and take it! My dream will be taking me as far away from my home as anyone in my family has ever gone. I look forward to taking full advantage of this opportunity and the many others that may lie ahead.”

MRTI alum make good on the “other” side of the fence.

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) determined their various class and series over the weekend at Road Atlanta.  And while it’s never a happy day to see a driver leave the open wheel ladder; it is always a happy day to see a driver happy and successful.  Here are the various IMSA champions who got their early training in the Mazda Road To Indy:

  • Prototype Challenge champion, Coin Braun was a 2004 & 2005 Pro Mazda (then Star Mazda) participant
  • GT Daytona champion, Dane Cameron was the 2007 Pro Mazda champion and 2006 USF2000 vice-champion
  • Continental SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport champion, Trent HIndman is a USF2000 graduate
  • Cooper Tires Prototype Lites champion, Mikhail Goikberg is an alum of USF2000
  • Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champion, Colin Thompson spent the 2012 season in USF2000

The Porsche GT3 Cup Canada championship was not decided this weekend, but was won by a current Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire driver.  Scott Hargrove, who finished 2nd in Pro Mazda turned a one-off event in May into a championship by winning six of 10 races.  The current Pro Mazda champion was also a participant in the series, taking two wins on the way to a 3rd place championship finish.

RACER and the MRTI join forces

RACER Magazine and Racer Media and Marketing have recently been announced as an official partner of the Mazda Road To Indy, in a deal that will include creative services, content marketing and and expanded advertising campaign.

RACER has been a tremendous supporter of the Mazda Road to Indy, including the launch of the Dallara IL-15, and our new partnership is a natural expansion of an already great working relationship,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Paul Pfanner [RACER founder and president] is a long-established visionary on the motorsports front and this is a great opportunity for us to tap into the creative services expertise of Paul and his team as well as expand our editorial coverage, all of which benefits our competitors and partners.”

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports joins the party

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has announced that their impressive run in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Championship is set to continue for the 14th straight season.  The Indianapolis based squad’s imposing biography encompasses seven championships, including four of the last five champions.

“SPM is the only team that has competed in Indy Lights since its inception,” team owner Sam Schmidt said. “We believe that the series is a vital step to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series, and the number of current IndyCar drivers who previously participated in Indy Lights is proof that the system works. We are proud to announce our official entry into the series for 2015 and look forward to the incredible competition that will be created by the new chassis and its formula.”

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports joins nine other teams that have registered for the 2015 Indy Lights season.  The other teams are: 8Star Motorsports, Belardi Auto Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport, Conquest Racing, Dragon Motor Racing, Fan Force United, Juncos Racing, McCormack Racing, and Team Moore Racing.

Teams that have placed orders for the AER powered machine are expected to take delivery soon in preparation for the initial round of testing at Palm Beach International Raceway on December 16th and 17th.  Further testing on the road-course and oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway will occur from January 26th through January 29th.

Expect driver announcements in the next couple of weeks.

Other SPM Indy Lights Notes:

  • I had a chance to chat with 2014 vice-champion Jack Harvey, and he intimated that he would like to return to the series for a sophomore run at the championship.  But, like many drivers at this time of year, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver is still crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s.  From living in the Indianapolis area, to the family like atmosphere of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, and the atmosphere in the the paddock,  it’s clear that the 21 year-old UK native really enjoy’s everything about racing in the U.S.A.
Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire vice-champion Jack Harvey will look to contest a sophomore season (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire vice-champion Jack Harvey will look to contest a sophomore season (Photo Courtesy of Andersen Promotions)
  • Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda vice-champion RC Enerson recently tested the old Indy Lights car with SPM with an eye on making the jump up to the bigger cars.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Indy Lights facts and figures

  • Different drivers –> 55
  • Different winners –> 22 (
  • Starts –> 531
  • Wins –> 65
  • Poles –> 68
  • Podiums –> 171
  • Top 5’s–> 241

7 of the 33 2014 Indianapolis 500 starters are graduates of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Indy Lights program, they include:

  • James Davison
  • Jack Hawksworth
  • James Hinchcliffe
  • Sage Karam
  • Pippa Mann
  • Josef Newgarden
  • Martin Plowman

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Indy Lights champions

Year Champion
2013 Sage Karam
2012 Tristain Vautier
2011 Josef Newgarden
2010 J.K. Vernay
2007 Alex Lloyd
2006 Jay Howard
2004 Thiago Medeiros
Thiago Medeiros was the first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)
Thiago Medeiros was the first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports historic driver list and stats

Driver Starts Wins Poles Podium Top 5’s
P.J. Abbott 2 0 0 0 0
Richard Antinucci 16 2 1 8 9
Ana Beatriz 29 2 0 8 15
Jon Brownson 3 0 0 0 0
Jaime Camara 14 2 3 3 5
Victor Carbone 25 1 2 4 10
Gabby Chaves 12 1 1 10 11
Marco Cioci 2 0 0 0 0
Bryan Clauson 6 0 1 1 4
Wade Cunningham 17 3 2 6 7
Conor Daly 5 1 1 2 2
James Davison 15 1 1 2 3
Rocco DeSimone 1 0 0 0 0
Alex Ellis 1 0 0 0 0
Brandon Erwin 9 0 1 0 1
Chris Festa 14 0 0 3 6
Taylor Fletcher 2 0 0 0 0
Ross Fonferko 2 0 0 1 1
Curtis Francois 1 0 0 0 1
Juan Pablo Garcia 14 0 0 0 2
Esteban Guerrieri 26 6 6 15 18
Logan Gomez 17 1 0 2 3
Travis Gregg 20 3 7 6 8
Jack Harvey 14 4 4 10 14
Jack Hawksworth 12 3 2 6 7
Daniel Herrington 3 0 0 0 0
James Hinchcliffe 15 0 0 5 6
Jay Howard 12 2 2 7 8
Ryan Justice 15 0 0 1 3
Shinji Kajima 1 0 0 0 0
Sage Karam 12 3 3 9 10
Alex Lloyd 15 8 5 13 13
Arie Luyendyk, Jr. 7 0 0 2 2
Lloyd Mack appeared but did not start
Phillip Major 13 0 0 1 1
Pippa Mann 12 1 3 2 4
Scott Mayer 2 0 0 0 0
Sarah McCune 1 0 1 0 0
Thiago Medeiros 12 6 8 9 9
G.J. Mennen 7 0 0 0 1
Leilani Münter 2 0 0 0 0
Josef Newgarden 14 5 3 10 10
Kyle O’Gara 2 0 0 0 0
Akihira Okamoto 1 0 0 0 0
Juan Piedrahita 14 0 0 0 2
Brad Pollard 3 0 0 0 2
Luiz Razia 14 1 2 5 10
Johnny Reid 3 0 0 0 0
Tristan Vautier 12 4 5 7 10
JK Vernay 13 5 3 9 10
Jeff Tillman 1 0 0 0 0
Oliver Webb 12 0 1 1 5
James Winslow 6 0 0 0 1
Tom Wood 13 0 0 3 5
Gustavo Yacaman 15 0 0 0 2

Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road To Indy Info