12/10/09 Seeking to create a defined path for young, career-minded race drivers to reach the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, the Indy Racing League has launched the "Road To Indy," a developmental ladder system that includes Firestone Indy Lights, The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
The announcement of the program, which is designed to advance drivers from Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda to the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear to Firestone Indy Lights, and finally, the IZOD IndyCar Series, was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.
"With the 'Road to Indy,' a driver has the opportunity to hone his professional racing skills at an early stage of his or her career and has a chance to build upon those skills in a professional environment while driving similar-style open-wheel racing vehicles on similar tracks at every step."
Drivers from each of the affiliated "Road To Indy" series will have the opportunity to progress to the next level of the ladder system through participation in programs put together by each series or the Indy Racing League, which also will sanction USF2000 National Championship races.
While the long-term goal of the "Road to Indy" is to help prepare drivers and teams to progress at the highest levels of motorsports, drivers and teams in the three "Road to Indy" series will see added benefits almost immediately.
All three affiliated series will offer the challenge of racing on ovals, road courses and temporary street circuits and program participants will have the opportunity to showcase their drivers and teams in front of IZOD IndyCar Series teams and owners each year. In 2010, all three series that make up the "Road to Indy" program will join the IZOD IndyCar Series at the Streets of St. Petersburg and Iowa Speedway.
Additionally, all four series will conduct events in Indianapolis on Memorial Day weekend with Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda and Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear racing at O'Reilly Raceway Park at the "Night Before the 500," while Firestone Indy Lights (Firestone Freedom 100) and IZOD IndyCar Series (Indianapolis 500) race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"The Indy Racing League is open-wheel racing here in North America, and it is my great privilege to work with them again in the creation of a true ladder for young drivers to follow," said Dan Andersen, co-owner and chief executive officer, Andersen Promotions, administrator of the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda. "There is finally a clearly defined path to a career in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and I am looking forward to seeing many of tomorrow's IZOD IndyCar Series stars racing with us in the USF2000 series in 2010."
In addition, the drivers and teams in the affiliated series will receive access to the promotional efforts of the Indy Racing League. Among the promotional tools available to Road to Indy participants are:
Â· Inclusion in online advertising promoting the Road to Indy program
Â· A micro Web site dedicated to Road to Indy housed and promoted on the League's official Web site, IndyCar.com
Â· Invitation to participate in the Road to Indy Summit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
Â· Opportunities to develop business-to-business relationships with Indy Racing League teams, sponsors and manufacturers.
"Today's announcement is a formidable milestone in the 20th year of our history as a development series," said Gary Rodrigues, founder of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. "For the Star Mazda Championship to be honored with a formalized position in the pathway to an IZOD IndyCar Series driving career is not only gratifying to us, but provides a clarity that open-wheel drivers and fans have long been seeking. Now young driving talent can know where they need to be and where they are trying to go. Race fans can now determine where to watch for tomorrow's stars.
"I am convinced that everybody in our sport wins with this program. The best new talent can build their motorsports careers. Race fans in North America eventually get to see them in Indy cars."