82 AUGUST 2017
MAZDA ROAD TO INDY
The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is
several things at once: multi-tier championship series,
training ground, and a gateway to a place on the
Verizon IndyCar Series grid. Each individual rung
on the ladder helps a driver to develop their skills.
THE THREE STEPS TO INDY
teams that have to invest in cars on
multiple levels,” he says. “Many of our
teams are active in more than one of our
ladder series, so if we could come up with
a car that would satisfy two levels, both in
its basic form and for a lot of the spare
parts, that could only be a positive thing.
“It’s a concept that I hope saves teams
money in the long-term, and also helps the
lower levels of the professional ladder.
A parent can take their kid out of karting,
invest in a car, and they can run a couple of
years in USF2000, then take that same car,
That versatility comes at no cost to
performance: the PM- 18 was conceived to
be significantly faster, more raceable and
safer than the existing, late-1990s vintage
Pro Mazda car it will replace in 2018.
Works Mazda Prototype driver Joel Miller
handled the development of the USF- 17,
and reprises his key role for the PM- 18.
PUTTING IN THE MILES
“We’re seeing exactly what we wanted
in terms of the car’s performance
targets,” says Scot Elkins, PM- 18 project
manager. “We’re really, really happy with
what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
The PM- 18 is already testing, with
factory Mazda IMSA Prototype driver Joel
Miller handling development duties. Based
on early running at Mid-Ohio and Barber
Motorsports Park, his impressions are of a
car that will deliver in every department.
“It’s already well faster than the current
Pro Mazda car,” he says. “There’s currently
too big a gap between Pro Mazda and Indy
Lights, especially because the new USF2000
car is now faster – it’s nearly doing the same
times as the [2017-spec] Pro Mazda class.
“Ideally, you want Pro Mazda two or
three seconds quicker than USF2000,
As the first step out of karting, the Cooper Tires
USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda places
the emphasis on essential basics. “You learn what
a suspended car needs to drive well,” says MRTI
development driver Joel Miller. That means a lot
of performance can be unlocked by understanding
mechanical grip. And for many drivers, the annual
visit to Iowa offers a first taste of oval racing.
For the latest from the USF2000
championship, go to usf2000.com
Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires means a
step up in speed – even more when the new PM- 18
comes into play next year – and it also represents
a change in how that speed is generated. Having
mastered mechanical grip in USF2000, drivers in
Pro Mazda can take advantage of the car’s more
effective aero balance to learn about downforce
and how the car responds to aero changes.
For the latest from Pro Mazda,
check out promazda.com
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires takes
everything that a driver learned in Pro Mazda and
elevates it: more speed, more sophisticated aero.
But perhaps the biggest lesson? Indy. “Lights lets
you run on the Speedway,” says James Hinchcliffe.
“That’s one of the most daunting things you can
do. Getting some wheel-to-wheel action at Indy at
that level is invaluable preparation for IndyCar.”
For the latest from Indy Lights,
check out indylights.com