The Mazda Road to Indy is now officially Mazda-powered in all three levels of the ladder system.
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires now joins the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda as… well… powered by Mazda.
The announcement isn’t a surprise; it was hinted at on Wednesday and has been long overdue for the Indy Lights series, which hasn’t had an engine badge since Infiniti dropped out in the mid-2000s.
Still, the new engines had been revealed as AERs and expected to remain that way for some time given a lack of badging revealed with the new Dallara IL15 chassis announcement this May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Alas, the Mazda engine is no different than what has already been announced. The new chassis will feature the 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R, originally developed in conjunction with aforementioned Advanced Engine Research (AER).
The MZR-R was first campaigned by Mazda in the American Le Mans Series and Mazda customer teams in the European Le Mans Series. The engine enjoyed several milestone victories, among them were Mazda’s first-ever major North American overall sports car racing win and the 2011 LMP1 engine manufacturers championship. The engine, further developed by AER, will be designed to produce 450 horsepower and last an entire season without a rebuild.
“One of the reasons we joined up with AER, is that they build capable engines, and this is a derivative of that,” said Andersen Promotions head Dan Andersen. “We had hoped to work out an agreement with Mazda where they would assume the engine of this car. So it’s a perfect marriage of having Mazda on this engine.”
Added Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan, “I’ve been coming to Indianapolis since I was seven years old. We’ve run here in sports cars. But we’ll have Mazdas on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That makes my hair stand up.
“The partnership with Andersen Promotions, I can’t say enough about. (Dan) has been like a father figure to me.”
Perhaps the most salient point of the announcement – made at today’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis – came from INDYCAR’s Brian Barnhart.
“Mazda’s involvement is just as important (as Honda and Chevrolet) if not more so, given their involvement in all three levels,” he said. “It sometimes gets overlooked. They’ve shown incredible commitment and support. We appreciate Mazda’s commitment and what they do for the ladder system.”