Mazda Road to Indy 2016 schedules revealed

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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.

Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi bring their storied rivalry to a new level at Rolex 24

Ganassi Penske Rolex 24
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – To measure the impact of Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi squaring off for the first time in overall sports car wins (starting at the Rolex 24), look at the auto racing titans’ lineups.

There are 12 combined drivers across four entries representing Chip Ganassi Racing (competing as Cadillac Racing) and Team Penske (as Porsche Penske Motorsport) in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona.

And with the possible exception of six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, none of those behind the wheel is as famous and accomplished as the U.S. motorsports icons who will be sitting atop the pit stands at Daytona International Speedway.

In the NTT IndyCar Series, Penske and Ganassi are synonymous with success, having combined for 23 Indy 500 victories and 30 championships. They also competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for two decades with several signature wins for each.

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Until now, the rivalry never extended to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where they competed in different classes from 2018-19 and have competed in the top category in differing times over the years.

But the 2023 season opener at Daytona will mark the beginning of a new era in which Ganassi and Penske will compete for sports car overall victories on two continents. A Ganassi Cadillac Racing V-LMDh and Porsche Penske Motorsports Penske 963 will run full time in both the premier prototype divisions of IMSA and the European-based World Endurance Championship – whose crown jewel is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Having two of the world’s biggest sports car races welcome the Ganassi-Penske battle seems only fitting in a season in which IMSA’s new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class is expected to introduce a stiffer level of competition.

“We obviously like beating each other,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “I think if you beat Penske, you know you’ve beaten someone. You’ve accomplished something great. It’s going to be the same as always. Just another platform at another track, but the rivalry will be just as heated I’m sure.

“On one hand, he’s always the first guy to call us out for a penalty or something. On the other hand, he’s also the first guy to congratulate me on a win, so I think it’s a healthy rivalry, but we certainly pound each other’s heads into the ground on race day. Monday through Friday it switches to more of a good relationship.”

After starting his career in sports cars, Penske also is looking forward to having a new arena to race Ganassi.

“There is a lot of anticipation and excitement about the Rolex 24 and the upcoming sports car season overall,” Penske said in a statement to NBC Sports statement. “With the new hybrid prototype formula ready to make its debut, and some great competition expected on the track between teams, drivers and manufacturers, there is a lot of momentum building right now. Porsche Penske Motorsport is excited to compete in both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, this season and I can’t wait to see the No. 6 and No. 7 Porsche 963s in action at Daytona this weekend. We also look forward to bringing some new rivalries and storylines to the sport.

Roger Penske confers with Chip Ganassi before the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images).

“In the new IMSA GTP class, there should be a good competitive balance between Porsche, Cadillac, Acura and BMW. We have seen how the rivalry between Team Penske and Ganassi Racing has developed in the NTT IndyCar Series in recent years, and that could certainly extend to sports cars as our teams and drivers continue to develop the new formula and push the production on track in both IMSA and WEC. We will see how the competition plays out, starting this weekend, as we always enjoy racing against Chip and his teams.”

Though there have been some fiery moments over the years (Dario Franchitti vs. Will Power, anyone?), Ganassi vs. Penske mostly has been a story of respect between two organizations whose main strengths are people.

“It’s just the depth of the organizations going up against each other,” Ganassi said. “It’s not just he and I. It’s at every level of the organization.

“We’re smaller. I’d like to think we’re a little more nimble. This is all I do is race cars. I don’t have 200 car dealerships or a truck rental company or a transportation company. I just have racing is all I have.”

Heading into Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, here are the thoughts of Ganassi and Penske drivers in the Rolex 24 at Daytona:


Earl Bamber, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “When I grew up as a kid, I remember watching Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske battle each other for many years, obviously following Scott Dixon and his career in IndyCar (Bamber is a New Zealand native like Dixon). And when the opportunity came up to come and race for Chip, it’s a no-brainer. It’s one of those teams you want to drive for in the world. It’s one of the biggest and most successful teams in the world. And then we’ve got Porsche, where I used to drive, with Penske. It’s going to be a phenomenal rivalry over the next couple of years and that rivalry continues between two absolute legends of our sport. Two people who have been the most successful. I hope we can get Cadillac and Chip their first Le Mans win. That’s obviously the ultimate goal for us and beat his old rival, Roger.

“Those two powerhouses of the sport, they definitely raise the bar. You’ve seen it in IndyCar for years and years. One finds something and the next pushes it forward and forward. You’ll see the same in sports car racing. We all saw what Chip Ganassi Racing did back in the day with the GT program. So no doubt we can do the same again. It’s the ultimate highest level of motorsport when it comes to sports car racing, and there’ll be no stone unturned to make sure that we’re winning these races. It will be a really great fight, great for the fans and great for the sport, because both of them love winning.”

Dane Cameron, No. 6 Porsche Penske: “I think anytime you have Chip and Roger come to town to start fighting for wins, it raises the profile of the whole thing. Hopefully it brings a few more eyes to everything. Certainly brings a lot of expectation with it as well, and I also think it reflects really strongly on the championship to show how competitive it is. They respect the championship and challenge, but when they come to town, they come to win for sure.”

Scott Dixon, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “The battle between Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske is always a fierce one. I obviously know it well from the IndyCar side. But I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s impressive to see a lot of the manufacturers that have come in for this battle. I imagine if it’s not from the first race but during the season that Penske and Ganassi will fight it out pretty hard.

“I think the rivalry between Chip Ganassi racing and Penske has always been strong and in a good way. There’s been some battles and the 2010s for me and other drivers when it gets fierce. Some disagreements here and there. But it’s always been a great pure battle, which is what I think these championships are made of and what brings the fans to the track. So I’d sum it up as a very healthy rivalry.”

Alex Lynn, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “Even as a little boy (growing up in England), you knew exactly who Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi were. You knew what their teams represented. For me to represent Chip and his team is a huge honor. I’m extremely motivated to try to add to his legacy and be part of the fabric of this team. I think having the battle between Penske and Ganassi is iconic. Also Porsche and Cadillac as brands, respectively, just adds to the occasion. Makes me smile even thinking about it knowing what we get to represent when the flag drops.”

Felipe Nasr, No. 7 Porsche Penske: “I think it’s fantastic especially because we’re merging the IMSA and WEC Series and giving the opportunity for teams like Penske and Ganassi to fight for overall victories. You look at the history of those teams, they’ve been on top. We always hear it from the IndyCar guys or the NASCAR side, you’re talking two big names in motorsports. You expect nothing but them fighting for wins. For sure Ganassi has strengths, and we have strengths as well. I’m pretty glad I have the opportunity to be representing Team Penske and continue to write history with them and Porsche is a great opportunity.”

Richard Westbrook, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “The chance for the two most famous teams in America to go head to head in the Daytona 24 Hours and also the Le Mans 24 Hours. I expect that rivalry to keep going up more notches.”

Renger van der Zande, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “Obviously, it’s such the big houses of racing in the U.S. Penske and Ganassi are taking it at each other. The rivalry is big. The best of the best. The most famous ones in the U.S.

“Ganassi is part of Cadillac. We’re the race team that runs the factory program for Cadillac. Penske is running it for Porsche, obviously a high brand as well. Those teams have their little rivalry, but they’re working for a bigger company, a bigger brand, which is Cadillac and Porsche. So those two premium brands taking on each other and then two of the best teams in America taking on each other. It’s very simple: Cadillac got the best team in the U.S. and Porsche got the best team in the U.S. So let’s see what happens. It’s going to be a cool fight.”