USF2000 to Join ALMS Weekend at Mazda Raceway
The Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda's 2010 schedule features races in the East, the South and the Midwest. Today series officials announced they are making a special effort to reach out to open-wheel racing's rising stars on the West Coast too by staging a special exhibition doubleheader during the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. May 20-23. Although this year's doubleheader will be a non-points event, series officials said they hope the venue can be added to the USF2000 Championship schedule starting in 2011.The event gives drivers who are already competing in this year's USF2000 Championship the opportunity to test during actual race conditions on one of the continent's most popular road courses while vying for a special enhanced prize package posted to help offset their travel costs.
The fans will benefit too. They'll get the opportunity to see the established sports car stars of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n and the stars of the future in both open-wheel and sports car racing tackle the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course, including its famous Corkscrew, all on one weekend.
Many top drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series and endurance sports car racing honed their skills in F2000, and the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda is an important training ground for rising stars. The series is the revival of the very popular USF2000 series of 1990 through 2006. Sanctioned by the Indy Racing League, it and the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear are the only two series that are part of both the IRL's Road to Indy ladder system and the MAZDASPEED Motorsports driver development program.
The event at Mazda's "home" track will be a showcase for many of the series that Mazda and Cooper Tires support, as the Playboy Mazda MX5 Cup, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championships, the Patr¢n GT3 Challenge by Yokohama and the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear are all on the card in addition to USF2000 and the ALMS.
The USF2000 competitors are invited to participate in the promoter's test day at the track on Thursday, May 20. Two official practice sessions that are part of the event, called the American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patr¢n, will be held on Friday, May 21. Qualifying will follow the next morning prior to the ALMS headliner that afternoon. The USF2000 doubleheader exhibition races will be 30-minute races on Sunday, May 23 at 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The starting line-up for the afternoon race will be established by each competitor's fastest race lap during the race in the morning.
"We wanted to include Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on our 2010 calendar of events, and we're delighted that the opportunity has now presented itself so our drivers can compete there," said Dan Andersen, chief executive officer of Andersen Promotions, which promotes the USF2000 Championship. "Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the greatest road courses in North America, and I know our USF2000 competitors will put on a terrific show for the fans. While this is a non-points event this year, we hope to return in 2011 with an event on our regular schedule."
As yet another way Mazda and Cooper Tires are supporting the USF2000 series, Mazda has posted $10,000 in additional prize money for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca doubleheader for the Championship class podium finishers whose cars are powered by the Mazda MZR engine. Cooper Tires is also offering some free tires to teams that competed in the season-opening doubleheader at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix March 27-28 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The series is also offering price reductions on entry fees for teams that competed in St. Petersburg to help defray their expenses of towing to California. Staubli, Tilton and Performance Friction Brakes will also award their usual USF2000 contingency prizes.
Andersen added that the USF2000 series has arranged for the Pacific F2000 series to join the USF2000 series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and compete within the USF2000 series' National class.
Those USF2000 drivers who decide to make the trip west will have a street course and a road course race under their belts before they tackle the series' two oval-track races on the 2010 schedule. They will be held May 29 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. and June 19 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. In addition to tweaking their Laguna Seca set-ups for possible points races there next year they will also be preparing for the bulk of this year's season, which will be staged solely on road courses after the race at Iowa.