Third Annual Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic Features Distinguished Panel
The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will return to the track this week with over 35 drivers on deck for a pair of official series tests at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, and Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.
USF2000 will kick off a busy week of activity tomorrow with a two-day outing at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course, sharing track time with the Firestone Indy Lights Series. Pro Mazda competitors will take over the circuit on Thursday for a full day of testing. All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will be competing at Mid-Ohio in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series on August 3/4.
Prior to a one-day test for USF2000 and Pro Mazda at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval, drivers will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third annual Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic on Friday. The clinic covers all aspects of the intricacies of oval racing, supported by video footage, and serves as an introduction for drivers who will be turning their first oval laps the following day and as a refresher course for others. The first oval events of the season for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will take place this month with the Firestone Freedom 100 for Indy Lights on May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the “Night Before the 500” at Lucas Oil Raceway for USF2000 and Pro Mazda on May 25.
Hosted by INDYCAR’s Director of Grassroots Initiatives Jason Penix and led by multiple driving champion and noted driving coach Gerardo Bonilla, the clinic continues its tradition of providing a panel of experts to share their knowledge and experience. This year’s panel features INDYCAR President of Competition Beaux Barfield, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team owner and former driver Sarah Fisher, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, Mazda Road to Indy graduate and current IZOD IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden and INDYCAR race steward and Cooper Tires Technical/Driver Consultant, Performance Advisor and spokesman Johnny Unser.
“This week’s testing and oval clinic are just the start of what has become a great month of education for our drivers with the final segment of the Mazda Road to Indy Summit around the Indy 500,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter for USF2000 and Pro Mazda. “Incredibly, INDYCAR continues to enhance what is already a great Summit program, providing a fantastic opportunity for our drivers to learn from industry experts on a variety of topics that will help them as they move up the ladder.”
The Mazda Road to Indy Summit will take place on May 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will feature seminars on Media Relationship Building with Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star; Performance Thinking with Dr. Jacques Dallaire of Performance Prime; Simulator Training with Kelly Jones and Peter Olrich of RaceCraft1; and Return on Investment with John Doonan, Director of Motorsports at Mazda North American Operations, and Dean Case, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Communications Officer. On May 22, drivers will have the opportunity to attend a fitness and wellness course at PitFit Training hosted by owner Jim Leo.
The first part of the Summit program was held during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and included media training with Sportscast Stars Training, a Mazda Business of Motorsports seminar with Doonan and Case, and a Building a Successful Brand course and Team Talk with IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy graduates James Hinchcliffe and Tristan Vautier, respectively.
Additional activities this month include pace laps for the Firestone Freedom 100 race on Carburetion Day by current Pro Mazda points leader Matthew Brabham, driver of the MAZDASPEED/Team Andretti entry for Andretti Autosport, and USF2000 points leader Scott Hargrove, driver of the #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing entry for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
The winners of the Firestone Freedom 100 and “Night Before the 500” races will also be interviewed on the Victory podium minutes before the start of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Firestone Indy Lights competition the following year. For more information, visit www.promazdachampionship.com.
About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. The company also has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. Additional information can be found at www.us.coopertire.com.