Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Mazda Road to Indy 2016 schedules revealed

2 Comments

The schedules for the 2016 Mazda Road to Indy have been revealed, which more or less mirror the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule that was released on Tuesday.

The only notable change is Indy Lights not going to Long Beach. Meanwhile, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will return as the season finale, a week before the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway. Pirelli World Challenge will be back at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2016, but not on the same weekend as MRTI.

The full release from the series is below:


Andersen Promotions today unveiled the 2016 calendar for the series that comprise the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. All events will be in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series with the exception of the season finale which will once again take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Seven venues will feature all three levels of the ladder system.

“I am extremely pleased with the caliber of events we have on our 2016 schedule,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We have a total of 50 races on deck for the three series across key markets in the United States as well as Canada. Finishing the season – and crowning all three champions – at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca finale this year proved to be a great ending and we are excited to return and close out the season again next year.

“We have a lot of exciting things in the works. including the unveiling of the new USF2000 car at Indianapolis in May, and we will be working hard to build on the tremendous season we had in 2015.”

On the heels of a successful debut of the Mazda-powered Dallara IL-15, Indy Lights will see an expanded schedule of 18 races next season with the addition of three new circuits – Phoenix International Raceway, Road America and the Streets of Boston. The blend of three ovals, three street circuit and five road course events will include doubleheader rounds at all street and road course venues with the exception of the Boston race. A new qualifying feature – the Cooper Tires Lightning Round – will also debut at select circuits next year featuring the top three drivers from qualifying in a one-lap shootout on a new, softer compound Cooper RS3 racing slick for the coveted Cooper Tires Pole Award.

Indy Lights competitors will again vie for a guaranteed three-race scholarship to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017, which includes the Indianapolis 500. NBCSN will host one-hour broadcasts of all race events with live broadcasts on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR App from Verizon. ESPN International holds the international broadcast rights with races airing in Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Australia amongst others.

RoadToIndy.TV and the Mazda Road to Indy App will continue to feature behind-the-scenes content, race recap episodes, special features, live streaming at select events and live shows of Mazda Road to Indy on and off-track activities.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2016 Schedule of Events

March 11-13 Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida 1.8-mile street course*
April 1-2 Phoenix International Raceway 1-mile oval
April 22-24 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course*
May 12-14 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course*
May 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval
June 24-26 Road America 4.048-mile road course*
July 9-10 Iowa Speedway .875-mile oval
July 15-17 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.755-mile street course*
July 29-31 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course*
September 2-4 Streets of Boston, Massachusetts 2.25-mile street course
September 9-11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2.238-mile road course*
*Doubleheader events

Upcoming tests include the fifth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on November 21-22, Spring Training at Barber Motorsports Park on March 5, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11 (road course) and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 7. Additional test dates, including a test day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Pro Mazda will maintain a 16-race schedule featuring five road course, two street course and two oval venues. With the exception of the ovals, all events will comprise double-header rounds. Pro Mazda competitors will once again vie for a Mazda scholarship to advance to Indy Lights in 2017.

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
March 11-13 Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida 1.8-mile street course*
April 22-24 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course*
May 12-14 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course*
May 28 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis .686-mile oval
June 24-26 Road America 4.048-mile road course*
July 9-10 Iowa Speedway .875-mile oval
July 15-17 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.755-mile street course*
July 29-31 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course*
September 9-11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2.238-mile road course*
*Doubleheader events

Test dates include the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on November 21-22, Spring Training at Barber Motorsports Park on March 6/7, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11 (road course) and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 8/9.

The USF2000 calendar will include 16 races held at eight venues featuring five road course, two street circuit and one oval event. Aside from the oval, all rounds are double-headers with the now traditional tripleheader event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At stake is a champion’s prize of a scholarship from Mazda to advance to Pro Mazda in 2017.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
March 11-13 Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida 1.8-mile street circuit*
April 22-24 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course*
May 12-14 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course*
May 28 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis .686-mile oval
June 24-26 Road America 4.048-mile road course*
July 15-17 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.755-mile street course*
July 29-31 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course**
September 9-11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2.238-mile road course*
*Doubleheader events
**Tripleheader event

The test schedule includes the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on November 21-22, Spring Training at Barber Motorsports Park on March 6/7, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11 (road course) and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 8/9.

Off-track training for all series will feature the unparalleled Mazda Road to Indy Summit program which will take place over the St. Petersburg and Indianapolis race weekends. Past subjects have included media training, maximizing social media, fitness, performance thinking, creating a sponsorship proposal, the business of motorsports, what team owner’s look for in a driver and simulator training.

F1: Max Verstappen provides late-lap thrills at U.S. Grand Prix

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AUSTIN, Texas — Leave it to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to provide some late-race thrills at the U.S. Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s key block on Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton late in Sunday’s race denied Hamilton a chance to maybe chase down Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to win. And it helped deny Hamilton’s bid for the season championship.

Verstappen’s defensive skills allowed the Red Bull driver to finish second, his best result yet at the U.S Grand Prix, his fourth podium in six races. By keeping Hamilton third, it kept the season championship alive, even if just another week to the Mexican Grand Prix.

Last season, Verstappen had surged past Raikkonen on a final-lap pass to finish third. It was the kind of aggressive move that earned him the “Mad Max” nickname. Before he could even reach the podium, race officials declared Verstappen’s move illegal and bumped an angry Verstappen down to fifth.

The Circuit of the Americas this week installed a new curb on the same corner, dubbed “Verstoppen,” to punish drivers who tried anything similar this year. It worked when Verstappen hit it hard enough in qualifying to knock his car out of the session with a damaged suspension and gear box. He started Sunday’s race 18th.

The Dutch driver launched a furious attack through the field and found himself in the thick of things late Sunday. His move to block Hamilton wasn’t on the same corner with the curbs, and it came with him playing defense instead of being the aggressor.

Verstappen had to make multiple moves to keep Hamilton behind him and finally drove the Mercedes wide, forcing Hamilton to finally concede the position and the race.

“I was trying to get close to Kimi but at the same time keeping an eye on Lewis in my mirror. It was close, but we managed to hang on,” Verstappen said. “It is safe to say today went a lot better than expected.”

Knowing Verstappen’s aggressive nature, Hamilton said there was too much at stake to risk a collision.

“The key to me was to make sure I finished ahead of Seb. I don’t care when you win a championship, just that you win,” Hamilton said. “”For Max, to come back from so far, he did a great job.”

Verstappen has been just as aggressive at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

In 2016, race officials ruled he improperly left the track to gain an advantage on Vettel to finish third and he was bumped from the podium. Last season, Verstappen’s strong start sent him into the lead out of the first turn, while Hamilton and Vettel bumped each other. The collision ruptured one of Hamilton’s tires.

Verstappen won the race while Hamilton limped home in ninth place, but still won the season championship.