84 FALL 2014
and to better prepare drivers for the
raceability of the IndyCar Series’ DW12.
“The IL15 has outperformed our wildest
dreams,” says Dan Andersen, promoter of
all three steps on the Mazda Road To Indy.
“Our partners – AER, Cooper Tires,
Cosworth, Motegi, Performance Friction,
etc. – contributed to this hugely, and I give
great credit to Tony Cotman [project
manager] and to Dallara.”
If Andersen sounds enthusiastic, so he
should. Tony George Jr.’s desire to have a
logical, organized and well-promoted route
to IndyCar was the reason why, in 2009,
he approached Andersen, a team owner
and a man who’d run USF2000 for a
decade before it came under IndyCar’s
umbrella. Now Andersen has strong
partnerships with Mazda and Cooper
Tires, an understandable path of
that have the wherewithal to support drivers
who don’t bring megabucks, just talent.”
Equally, he hopes Indy Lights teams will
expand to set up Pro Mazda and USF2000
squads, increasing the depth of talent in
the cockpits and also the engineering rooms.
“We have a history of seeing mechanics
and race engineers and data acquisition
engineers move up the ranks from junior
formulas into IndyCar,” says Andersen, “and
the tougher the competition, the better
prepared they’ll be for graduating to
IndyCar where the margins are so tight.”
Andersen admits that the Mazda Road
To Indy’s impending boost with the IL15
could not have been better timed.
“In Europe, drivers are frustrated that
even if they win a series, they’re not
guaranteed to graduate. They wonder why
they spend six- and seven-figure sums each
year, but even if their potential is huge,
they’re not picked up by teams in the next
level up. So a lot of drivers and teams are
looking over here and thinking, ‘There’s a
place where, if we do well, we’ll graduate.’”
“One of the big attractions of IndyCar,”
adds Pigot, “is seeing the top Americans
battling stars from Europe and around
the world. Having that situation at the
start of the Mazda Road To Indy will be
a good thing because the tougher the
competition, the tougher we all become.”
In other words, a rising tide floats all
boats…and that applies on a larger scale,
too. The reinvigorated Indy Lights
Presented by Cooper Tires series will
surely prove beneficial to the whole
Mazda Road To Indy program.
MAZDA ROAD TO INDY
gimme three steps
• A slicks ’n’ wings open-wheeler, with
a 170hp, 2-liter engine. USF2000 is a
notable step from 130hp treaded-tire
Skip Barber Racing School cars.
• In 2014, all but one of the 14
rounds were in front of IndyCar teams.
• Gives many drivers their first taste of
oval racing, at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil
Raceway on the eve of the Indy 500.
cOOpeR TIRes usF2000
POWERED BY MAZDA
• Brand new Dallara IL15 designed to
handle and deliver power in a way that
prepares drivers for IndyCar’s DW12.
• There’s 450hp with 50hp push-to-pass boost from the AER-built 2-liter,
which ensures it’s a 200mph-plus car.
• 2015 champion is guaranteed three
entries in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar
Series, including the Indianapolis 500.
PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES
• Step up in power to 255hp, combined
with more downforce. “Braking zones
are shorter, so planning moves is vital,”
adds new champ Spencer Pigot.
• Similar to USF2000, all but one
Pro Mazda race in 2014 was part of a
Verizon IndyCar Series weekend.
• Adds Milwaukee to the oval roster,
on top of a race at LOR.
PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES
Latorre won the
2014 Cooper Tires
by Mazda title with
a great blend of
usf2000 cars slipstream well, yet don’t
suffer too much aero wash in corners, and
that allows cars to remain close. it gets
trickier further up the mazda road to indy…
“We’ll have teams that have
the wherewithal to support
drivers who don’t bring
megabucks, just talent”
progression and a fast new car to lure
teams and drivers from home and abroad.
It’s a perpetual structure, too: the higher
the median driver standard, the harder
the competition, so teams will keep hiring
top drivers in order to succeed, which in
turn attracts top drivers the following year.
“Fierce competition is what racing is all
about,” says Andersen. “We’ll have teams