Andersen Promotions Announces USAC Sanctioning

PALMETTO, Fla. – Andersen Promotions today announced a new agreement with the United States Auto Club (USAC Racing) to become the sanctioning body for the three racing series owned and operated by the organization – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires as well as the new USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires.

Both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 are key steps on the highly visible Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, a scholarship-supported driver development platform to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500. The recently announced USF Juniors is a pre-step to the ladder system offering its champion a scholarship package to enter USF2000.

USAC Racing has enjoyed a storied history since being formed in 1956 as a sanctioning body for the United States National Championship and the Indianapolis 500. While its portfolio is best known in the circle track arena with Silver Crown, Sprint, Midget and .25 Midget sanctioning, it now governs a diverse motorsports platform which also includes the SRO World Challenge, Porsche Sprint Challenge and the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks.

“Thirty years ago when I first announced the USF2000 series launch in 1991, USAC stepped up and was my first sanctioning body,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We’ve come full circle and I am very pleased to be back with them and look forward to a long-term relationship. USAC Racing is widely recognized for its operation of Midgets, Sprint cars and Silver Crown cars but they are also becoming increasingly prominent in road racing with Porsche and SRO. This is a great sanctioning body and we are proud to be with them.

“I would also like to thank INDYCAR, which has sanctioned the Road to Indy since its inception in 2010. INDYCAR’s focus is, understandably, on series it owns and operates. We’ll continue to use their services on race weekends and look forward to our ongoing relationship as a support series where our drivers continue along their path toward the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

USAC Racing sanctioning services will include licensing and membership management, which will result in cost savings for teams and drivers. Andersen Promotions will continue to contract the services of INDYCAR for Race Control, Timing & Scoring and the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team with all events on its 2022 calendar for USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

The Road to Indy will be back in action later this month with its traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on October 30/31. The outing will feature all three levels of the ladder including Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, which is owned by INDYCAR and will continue to operate under its sanction.

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Road to Indy Final Day Saw Title Hopes Slip Slidin’ Away

Photo: Will Kyle Kirkwood find an Indycar ride for 2022?

David Malukas slim title hopes for the Indy Lights championship got a bit more life as he won the pole for Sunday’s final race of the season at Mid Ohio. The pole was only one of three things that needed to happen for him to take the crown from Kyle Kirkwood.

At turn 1 after the start, however, it was all over as Malukas overshot the turn and was in last place by turn 4. All Kirkwood had to do was finish the race in virtually any position. Kirkwood finished fifth.

Give Malukas credit. he did not give up. He worked his way through the field on a very slippery track to finish second. Kirkwood won the title by 13 points. Malukas had one of the best Road to Indy drives i have ever seen. it was right up there with Spencer Pigot at Sonoma, who was spun out on the first lap and came from last place to finish fifth, which is where he needed to be to win the championship. Linus Lundqvist won the race, and was third in the season standings. Lujndqvist and Malukas both plan to drive in Indycar in 2022.

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood is the first driver to win the title on all three levels of the Road to Indy. In a twist of irony, he accomplished that feat on the day he lost a race at Mid Ohio for the first time. Kirkwood had won seven straight open wheel races at this track.

In a normal year, we would definitely see Kirkwood in Indycar next year, but where he drives next year is uncertain. I will have more about that later this week.

USF 2000- Running Out the Clock

Going first can have its disadvantages, and the USF 2000 Series had the worst race and qualifying conditions of the day. Qualifying was abandoned after the time time period ran out. The number of slideoffs and red flags didn’t allow for the guaranteed 20 minutes of green flag running. The grid was set using Saturday’s second fastest qualifying laps.

On lap 1 Josh green got past pole sitter Michael D’Orlando in turn 4 to take the lead. Green kept the position as numerous spins caused the race to run under caution most of the time. The race ended as the time limit expired.

Kiko Porto, Banco Daycoval/Petromega, DEForce Racing, Victory Lane Championship winner

Kiko Porto, the season champion, finished third. Porto will move to Indy Pro 2000 in 2022. It’s nice to see another brazilian driver moving up the ladder.

Indy Pro 2000- Improved Conditions Lead to Best Race of the Day

The final race of the day saw bits of sunshine on a rapidly improving track. It still wasn’t perfect, but the racing was the best of the day. Three lead changes among three driver made for a good event. James Roe won the race for his first victory of the year. He edged Emaan Ahmed by 0.1412 seconds at the line.

Christian Rasmussen claimed the season title just by starting the race. he will be a force in Indy Lights next year.

Christian Rasmussen

Points Leaders On the Verge of Road to Indy Titles

One championship is over and the other two will be when the green flag begins the respective races tomorrow.

Yuven Sunaramoorthy (center) won the race, but Kiko Porto (right) won the season title. Photo from Road to Indy

Kiko Porto, 18, from Brazil, clinched the USF2000 title by finishing third in Race 1 today. Porto qualified fifth and moved t third after an early accident took out the drivers running second and third. Porto has a 45 point lead over Braden Eves, who finished fifth today.

Yuven Sundaramoothy won his fourth race of the year. He passed pole sitter Michael D’Orlando just before the yellow flag came out for the incident between Jace Denmark and Prescott Campbell . Sundaramoothy will finish third in the points.

The USF2000 race was the day’s final event, and it was the best race of the best race of the day. There was lots of passing and quite a bit side by side action in turns 5 and 6.

Christian Rasmussen’s crew cheers him on after winning. He celebrates on the podium. Photo from Road to Indy

Rasmussen Clinches Indy Pro 2000 Title with Win

Christian Rasmussen extended his narrow lead over Braden Eves by winning the Indy Pro 2000 Race 1. To officially claim the title, Rasmussen just needs to start tomorrow’s race.

Kyle Kirkwood gets his seventh checkered flag at Mid Ohio. Photo from Road to Indy

Kirkwood Keeps Mid Ohio Record Perfect

Kyle Kirkwood has never lost an open race at Mid Ohio. He started from pole today and built a six second lead over his nearest competitor, David Malukas. Kirkwood led the entire race. He has ane asy path to the championship- win the pole or if he doesn’t, just start the race.

Kirkwood’s win was his seventh straight at Mid Ohio and fourth straight in his late season run.

A Pleasant Day at the Track

Today was one of the most pleasant days I have ever spent at a race track. The weather was perfect, the races were fun to watch, and the crowd was sparse. It was nice not have to constantly rub elbows with other fans or stand in a long line for anything.

I don’t know if this how the Road to Indy plans to end their seasons from now on, but I hope this continues. After the intense grind of the Indycar season, it was refreshing for me just to watch kids race and not have much rooting interest. Kirkwood was the only driver I was cheering for.

The day was also a good way to get a look at who might be some future stars of Indycar.

Weather May Be a Factor in Road to Indy Championships

The Road to Indy championship rounds begin this morning with qualifying, followed by the first races this afternoon.

Today at Mid Ohio the temperature should be 78 degrees, mostly cloudy, with only a 15% chance of rain. Tomorrow, however, calls for a high of 73 degrees and a 72% chance of rain.

The forecast could make for some intense racing today since tomorrow’s conditions could be less than optimal.

Today’s schedule:

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2021
7:30 AM – 5:00 PM TECH OPEN – USF2000 & INDY PRO 2000 (CLOSED FROM 12:30 PM -1:30 PM)
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM TECH OPEN – INDY LIGHTS (CLOSED FROM 11:30 AM -12:30 PM)
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM CREDENTIALS OPEN – MAIN GATE
8:00 AM – 8:25 AM SBRS PRACTICE 2
8:40 AM – 9:10 AM USF2000 PRACTICE 1
9:25 AM – 10:05 AM INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYING 1
10:20 AM – 10:50 AM INDY PRO 2000 QUALIFYING 1 (20 MIN GREEN IN 30 MIN WINDOW)
11:05 AM – 11:30 AM SBRS QUALIFYING 1
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM USF2000 QUALIFYING 1 (20 MIN GREEN IN 30 MIN WINDOW)
1:00 PM – 1:50 PM INDY LIGHTS RACE 1
2:05 PM – 2:55 PM INDY PRO 2000 RACE 1
3:10 PM – 3:35 PM SBRS RACE 1
3:50 PM – 4:30 PM USF2000 RACE 1

The action today and tomorrow will be on Road to Indy TV.

Robin Miller Celebration

The Celebration of Life for Robin Miller today will be streamed live on RACER.com at 11:45 Eastern. The live program is closed to the public. The celebration should last about 75 minutes.

Force Indy Taps Myles Rowe for Debut Season

Photo: Miles Rowe, from Indycar

Force Indy, the USF2000 team which will begin this season with assistance from Team Penske, will have 19 year old Myles Rowe as its driver. The team is one of the steps in Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change.

Previous posts

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/12/03/force-indy-penske-drive-for-diversity/

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/12/03/african-american-led-ownership-group-to-compete-in-road-to-indy/

The release from Indycar:

Myles Rowe was named as Force Indy’s inaugural driver in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship during the 2021 season, starting April 15-18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It’s a blessing, for sure,” Rowe said. “I didn’t expect to get started in open-wheel in this way. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Force Indy is a new USF2000 race team set to compete in the 2021 series. For 30 years, USF2000 has been the formative step in the ladder system, which culminates in scholarship opportunities in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This program has grown into a proven pipeline for open-wheel racing’s future stars.

The Force Indy team looks to benefit from the tutelage of the legendary Team Penske, winners of a record 18 Indianapolis 500’s and 16 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships, as part of the Race for Equality & Change initiative.

Rowe tested a USF2000 car in late July 2020 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the Race for Equality & Change program.

“We vetted many deserving young men and women and chose Myles based on his ability and performance, inside and outside of the cockpit,” Force Indy Team Principal Rod Reid said. “He understands Force Indy’s mission of building a diverse team of talented individuals. He’s a great fit for the team.”

Since age 4, Atlanta native Rowe has been fascinated with all things racing. He’s a winner in the 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series. In 2016, he was awarded two “Search for the Champion” grand prize championships from the Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ iconic Champion® brand.

At age 12, Rowe won the Procup Karting Championship during his first full season of racing. He’s competed in the TAG Junior category in the Superkarts USA, World Karting Association and the United States Pro Kart Series.

“I’ve been working hard for this moment with all of the practice I’ve put in since I was 12 years old,” Rowe said. “So, when the opportunity came forth, it was a relief, honestly.”

When he’s not racing, Rowe is a junior at Pace University, studying film and screen studies.

Force Indy is a race team created specifically to develop talent with a diverse group of individuals, outside as well as inside the cockpit. The foundation of Force Indy is the racing background of Reid and a mentorship alliance with Team Penske—the most successful team in motorsports history.

The team leadership brings years of experience from grassroots racing to the Road to Indy ladder system. The organization concentrates on developing skills that promote success at the highest level. Force Indy’s vision is to see motorsports grow ethnically, educationally and across gender.

Chris Griffis Memorial Test Returns to IMS, Includes Indycar Test

Photo from Indy Lights Twitter page

A news release from Indy lights. I’m happy to see these test days return.

PALMETTO, Fla. – Andersen Promotions today announced that the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test will return to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021. A fixture on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires calendar, the 10th annual event is scheduled for October 30-31 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course.

Named in memory of Chris Griffis, the former team manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who passed away suddenly in September 2011, the cornerstone of the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test is to provide new drivers with the opportunity to sample the Road to Indy while offering returning drivers the chance to hone their programs for the following year. More than ever the 2021 test will provide several drivers with the opportunity to experience the next rungs on the highly acclaimed driver development program as part of the 2020 and 2021 series prize packages.

Indy Lights, which spent 2020 on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returns with a stronger-than-ever champion’s scholarship award of $1,289,425 to guarantee entry into at least three NTT INDYCAR SERIES events for 2022 including the Indianapolis 500. As an additional performance incentive, three NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams will provide each of the top-three finishers their first taste of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car. That one-day NTT INDYCAR SERIES test outing is scheduled for October 29 the day prior to the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test.

“The ‘scouting combine’ experience, similar to other sports, will be an incredible opportunity for their great work and achievement from the 2021 season,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “From the engineer meetings to the test session on the track to the team debrief afterwards, it’ll run the gamut. A ‘let’s see where you are’ type of test with NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams participating and observing.”

As announced in June of this year with the likelihood of a Chris Griffis Memorial Test not feasible in 2020, the reigning champions in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Sting Ray Robb and Christian Rasmussen, respectively – will be provided with next level tests at the conclusion of their 2021 campaigns. Robb will be awarded an NTT INDYCAR SERIES test and Rasmussen an Indy Lights test to be held during the three-day event.

The value of the champions’ scholarships for Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 have also increased to $718,065 and $401,305 respectively, guaranteeing the 2021 champions advancement to the next step on the ladder. The prize package will now also include an Indy Lights one-day test provided by the series for the Indy Pro 2000 champion and a one-day test for the USF2000 champion in Indy Pro 2000.

“As competitors continue to evaluate their plans for next season, we want to emphasize our commitment to assisting drivers in climbing our Road to Indy ladder to reach the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We are extremely excited to work with INDYCAR to offer our top-three Indy Lights drivers an opportunity to test an Indy car, and to offer our reigning champions and 2021 champions in the junior series a chance to take the next step in their careers.

“The Chris Griffis test has always been one of my favorites. While it is exciting to see the new talent coming into our paddock, it is also especially rewarding to watch our current drivers move up and to hear their comments after first outings in the next level car.

“I also want to thank the Speedway for working with us to accommodate this event in a very busy month of October for them.”

Force Indy, Penske Drive for Diversity

In the 1930’s African American driver Charlie Wiggins submitted an entry for the Indianapolis 500. It was rejected, not because of his ability. Wiggins was a multiple winner of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The 500 would not have a driver of color until 1991.

Today, a new era of diversity begins at IMS, thanks to efforts from Roger Penske and Rod Reid, who introduced Force Indy to the media today.

Reid laid out his mission early in today’s press conference.

“I kind of see this two ways. One is that we are inviting the black community to come into motorsports through our effort as Force Indy. We are also inviting the motorsports industry to embrace seeing and having the presence of African Americans and people of color in the pits, in the paddock, in other places in motorsports.

I want to be very, very clear that we are about diversity. We are about more than just me as a principal and the drivers. As a matter of fact, one of our core projects that we’ve engaged in in terms of putting this team together is to make sure that we have those positions like mechanics and engineers and others in the mix.”

With the support of Team Penske, Reid, the CEO of NXG Motorsports, will field a car in the 2021 USF2000 series, the first step on the Road to Indy. Reid has spent 40 years in motorsport helping people of color succeed in the sport. Reid believes the mentoring of Team Penske will be a significant boost to the team in its first year.

Jimmie McMillan, Penske Entertainment Chief Diversity Officer, said, “This is very pivotal for the Race for Equality and Change that we are undergoing right now. I could tell you under our leadership, certainly under Roger Penske, but also under Mark Miles, Bud Denker, Doug Boles, Allison Melangton, Jay Frye, we are all committed to changing this sport. It is an everyday laser focus on what we can do to move the needle.”

McMillan added,”As an African American male, I cannot understate the importance of today. Someone who did not grow up with the sport, but grew to fall in love with the sport over time and over being introduced to it by others. I have strived to spread that love to other African Americans, people of color. This is a pivotal morning.”

The car will carry number 99. Reid explained the significance of that number.

“It’s so important for us to know where we’ve come from. There’s a lot of history. African Americans have been in motorsports ever since the beginning of the car, the sport itself.

A gentleman in the 1920s by the name of Dewey Gaston, he went by the nickname Rajo Jack. He actually ran No. 33 for a lot of years, was very, very successful with that number.

He was staging a comeback in the early ’50s, late ’40s. He brought a car that he thought would be extremely successful. That car was a big block engine, thought he was going to put it up front. It was No. 99. He was never able to win in that car. I think he finished the best with like a fourth in one of his races. Then he stopped.

I thought it would be fitting for us to take on that heritage and use the No. 99 to move forward. With the help of the Penske organization, ourself, we wanted to put No. 99 in the winner’s circle.”

Reid expects members of his team to eventually find jobs with other teams in the Indycar paddock. He never speaks just of drivers, but always talks of mechanics, engineers, and people on the business side of the sport. Reid indicated that the team plans to move up the Road to Indy ladder to land in Indycar in the future.

A driver has not been selected as yet. Reid said they are looking for someone who fits their criteria.

“I can tell you there’s a lot of talent out there. There are a lot of deserving drivers. Our goal is to sit down and make a decision and choose one of them that we think fit our criteria.

Very quickly, that criteria includes being an American, it includes being someone that has been given an opportunity to go from karts to cars as part of that transition. We’re also looking for someone that is youthful and can grow with us as we start to develop our team.

Probably the most important thing is they’ve got to fit what our mission is. We’re really all about the full team. This is not just about the driver, as you’ve heard from everyone here.”

There is a lot of speculation that Myles Rowe, who tested with a USF 2000 team last month is the prime candidate, but Reid was noncommittal. Neither would he rule out a female driver.

Unlike the Indianapolis 500 drives of Will T. Ribbs and George Mack, which were essentially one off ventures, Reid is looking at a long term sustainable model to infuse diversity throughout Indycar.

The support from the top should give Force Indy the foundation to succeed. I’m sure Charlie Wiggins is smiling today.

Zanardi Well Enough to Transfer; Kirkwood Gets a 2020 Do Over

Some bits of positive news:

Alex Zanardi, two time Indycar champion and paralympic gold medalist, continues to recover from his hand cycling accident last June. Zanardi suffered neurological and facial damage when his cycle hit a truck during a race in Tuscany. He had been in a facility in San Rafaella, but is moving to a rehabilitation center in Padua, which is closer to his home.

“The patient has reached a generally stable physical and neurological condition that permitted his transfer to another hospital equipped with all the necessary clinical specialties and closer to the family home,” said a spokesman for the San Rafaella hospital.

Kirkwood Returns to Andretti for Indy Lights

For 2021 Kyle Kirkwood will be where he was supposed to be in 2020. The 2018 USF200 champion and 2019 Indy Pro 200 champion will finally get to drive in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport, where his 2020 season was going to take place.

Kirkwood spent the past season in IMSA, which is not a bad alternative. For one thing, he received some experience doing pit stops, which drivers don’t get in Indy Lights. I look for Kirkwood, who will be in car 28 for Andretti, to be a strong contender for the title.

Updated: Indy Lights Schedule Has a Glaring Omission

Indy lights releaed their 2021 schedule as the top rung of the Road to Indy returns next season after a one year absence. The grid should have between 12-15 cars, with a strong field of drivers including IndyPro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb. I am excited to see Indy lights return.

Missing from the schedule is the Freedom 100, a Carb Day staple since 2001. My understanding is that this was an Indycar decision. It takes away some of the entertainment value of Carb Day. Indy lights has had some great races at IMS. I assume Indycar might get a 2 hour practice that day to make up for it. I would rather watch an Indy Lights race than watch the Pit Stop Competition.

The two oval races will be at World Wide Technology Raceway August 20 and 21. The schedule also has Indy lights returning to the Detroit GP for the first time in a few years.

Update: Indycar has issued a statement regarding no Freedom 100 in May:

The schedule:

I’ll be back tomorrow with my St. Pete preview.