IndyCar outlines five-year plan to strengthen Indy Lights participation

Written by Norris McDonald

I didn’t write this, although you can be excused if you think I did. This website is set up for me to be the one-and-only author.

This morning, I wrote a column suggesting how IndyCar and Andersen Promotions might go about getting more participation in the Road to Indy championships, now that Mazda has serviced notice it will end its involvement at the end of 2018. I won’t repeat what I said, which is still at (or near) the top of the site, if you are interested.

This afternoon, IndyCar and Andersen sent out the following news release outlining some of their plans to inject some health into the Indy Lights series.

Their release starts here:

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018) – The future of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires has been strengthened by a five-year plan released today by IndyCar and Andersen Promotions.

The objective of the plan shown to current and prospective entrants is to increase team and driver participation in the top level of the IndyCar-sanctioned Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, identify cost efficiencies for competitors and establish guidelines for advancing to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The road map resembling the one in use for the Verizon IndyCar Series has a structure of four primary areas:

  • A reduction in budgets for entrants;
    • An increase in prize money paid to competitors;
    • Revised IndyCar driver licensing guidelines;
    • Expansion of the Verizon IndyCar Series testing program.

Highlights of the cost savings plan include a reduction in new chassis pricing, a spare parts discount to new teams, a discount on Cooper tires and a reduction in engine lease pricing.

The increase in race prize money includes $50,000 to win the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in addition to an increase in payout for the top three finishers at every event. The season champion’s prize will be increased to $1.1 million built on a three-race Verizon IndyCar Series package for the following season that includes the Indianapolis 500.

Indy Lights remains the integral path to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Drivers may apply for a Verizon IndyCar Series license by meeting one of several new criteria, including a top-three finish in the Indy Lights season championship. Drivers who complete two full Indy Lights seasons can earn the license by finishing in the top five of the standings.

The introduction of an Indy Lights team incentive program will be designed to encourage Verizon IndyCar Series teams to participate. With suppliers participating, new Indy Lights entries can save more than $100,000.