IndyCar to abandon failing Indy Lights Series (Update) UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. IndyCar is relinquishing control of the struggling Indy Lights series to Dan Andersen, who owns the other two steps in the Mazda Road to Indy development program.
Andersen founded the USF2000 series in the 1990s, sold it and bought it back a couple of years ago. He also recently acquired Star Mazda, re-branding it as Pro Mazda. He is the owner and CEO of both divisions.
Andersen is scheduled to be confirmed to lead Indy Lights at a news conference Friday in Toronto (according to AutoWeek), an IndyCar event where all four divisions will participate.
The exact nature of IndyCar’s contract with Andersen hasn’t been revealed, but it’s believed the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body will continue to subsidize Indy Lights during the transition period.
06/20/13 IndyCar’s struggling Indy Lights Series is about to get a new direction, The Indianapolis Star has learned, and it will come from Dan Andersen.
Andersen is the Florida-based entrepreneur who founded the USF2000 series, the first step in IndyCar’s Mazda Road to Indy development program. Last year, Andersen’s promotion company bought the second step in IndyCar’s ladder system, now known as the Pro Mazda Series. Indy Lights is next.
To what extent IndyCar’s parent company has given Andersen control of Indy Lights isn’t clear — an Indianapolis Motor Speedway board meeting is being held today — but he will eventually own it, and his involvement can’t come soon enough.
Indy Lights had only eight car-and-driver combinations at last week’s race in Milwaukee, and no more than nine entries will be at Iowa Speedway for Saturday night’s race.
Andersen understands the problem: There aren’t enough teams (currently only four) and the price to participate —in excess of $700,000 — is high.
Andersen has experience lowering costs. The increase in car count in USF2000, a series he reacquired for the 2010 season, is tied to engines that can last two to three years. In his short tenure leading Pro Mazda, engines no longer have to be rebuilt four times per season at a cost of $15,000 per rebuild. A single engine can last all season, a $45,000 savings.
That isn’t the only reduction. Previously, Andersen said teams were committed to buying 75 sets of tires per season. With a change in manufacturer (to Cooper), teams now need only about 40 sets. A similar change is in store for Indy Lights. Indy Star