A New Indy Lights Plan- Financial Incentives for New Teams; More Prize Money Among Enhancements

On the heels of Mazda’s announcement yesterday that they are ending their sponsorship of the Road to Indy after 2018, Indycar and Andersen Promotions unveiled a five year plan to strengthen Indy Lights. The plan includes budget reductions, discounts for new teams, more prize money, and a revised Indycar licensing program.

The financial incentives include reduced tire costs, $100 less per set of Cooper Tires; a reduced engine lease with the engine locked in to 4,500 miles. TheĀ  engine will be the same AER powerplant, just not badged by Mazda. The chassis is guaranteed to be in use for three more seasons and possibly one more after that. The reductions should reduce a team’s budget to less than a million dollars.

Prize money increases include $1.1 million to the season champion, $50,00 to the winner of the Freedom 100, and a per race prize increases to the top three finishers. Cash awards were the main concern after yesterday’s announcement.

The plan also includes a revised licensing plan for Indy Lights drivers. The top three finishers in a season are eligible to obtain an Indycar license. A driver com- peting in two full seasons of Indy Lights and finishing in the top five is also eligible.

New teams have added incentives. They will receive six free sets of tires, free entry to a two day test at Mid Ohio, and a free set of Motegi wheels.

This is a big step in the right direction. Indycar and Andersen Promotions worked together to devise this plan. What it doesn’t do is give any incentive to an existing Indycar team to start an Indy Lights team. That is the one thing that would solidify the future of Indy Lights.

Bulletin: Mazda Ends Partnership with Andersen Promotions and Road to Indy

Just announced: Mazda has ended its nine year association with Andersen Promotions, promoter of the Road to Indy which sanctions USF2000, Pro Mazda, and Indy Lights.

A statement from John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, said it was time for Mazda to focus its “resources on other areas of our motorsports footprint.” Mazda will continue its association with Andersen Promotions through the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup series.

Dan Andersen thanked Mazda for their participation and said his company is committed to maintaining the ladder structure currently in place.

” We are currently in discussions with several potential companies as we actively pursue a new partner.”

I have no doubt Dan Andersen can find a new partner. I have no idea which companies he is talking with. I doubt if Honda or Chevy are involved. Could it be someone who is also interested in being a third OEM for Indycar? Possibly but not likely. A manufacturer involved in both series would give the appearance of having an advantage with the information gained in the Road to Indy program.

Mazda has been a great partner. I hope the next engine partner will further the program and help strengthen Indy Lights.

I will have more as this story develops.