Tatuus named new car chassis partner for new USF2000, Pro Mazda car

Photo: Andersen Promotions
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A new chassis provider has been selected for the first two rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. See the below release for more:

Andersen Promotions today announced that Tatuus has been chosen to design and manufacture the next generation of chassis for the first two levels of the Mazda Road to Indy – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The new Tatuus USF-17 and Tatuus PM-18 chassis will make their competition debut in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Headquartered in Concorezzo, Italy, Tatuus has been designing and manufacturing race-winning cars since 1980. The company, managed by Gianfranco De Bellis and Artico Sandonà, has produced more than 1,700 chassis in the past 15 years which have competed on a worldwide stage. Tatuus are leaders in the production of the FIA F4 race car as well as the Formula Renault 2.0 chassis amongst others.

“Since we first met almost 20 years ago, I have known Gianfranco De Bellis and the Tatuus brand of cars and have the highest respect for their product and performance,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “To enter into this new venture with them as partners is exciting and I know they will deliver a very high quality, safe and fast race car – a car that career-minded drivers from around the world will see as a real step up from other open-wheel series cars. The Mazda Road to Indy trains drivers well, and this new race car will only enhance that training for the future.”

The Request for Proposals (RFP) and selection process was led by motorsports veteran Scot Elkins, race director for the USF2000 and Pro Mazda series as well as the founder of TEG Motorsports Consulting and COO of the Motorsports Safety Foundation.

“Gianfranco and the entire Tatuus team really went above and beyond in the RFP process to earn this bid,” said Elkins. “The attention to detail in their proposal and easy acceptance of existing Andersen Promotions’ partners really give us high expectations for these cars and we are ecstatic to have them as partners for many years to come.”

The Tatuus USF-17 is a significant technology leap over the current Van Diemen USF2000 chassis. The USF-17 is a full carbon monocoque chassis built to the latest FIA F3 test specifications utilizing the current Mazda MZR 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine with additional safety features to meet the specific needs of racing in the United States. These features include full Zylon side intrusion panels and reinforced bulkheads to strengthen the chassis for racing on oval circuits. The USF-17 will also feature other upgrades such as a six-speed paddle shift gearbox, four-way adjustable dampers, specific design aluminum American Racing wheels, Cosworth data system, LCD steering wheel and ECU, four piston caliper PFC brakes and IndyCar-specific quick jack and roll hoop attachments.

Uniquely, the PM-18 will use the USF-17 as the base car to help control the operational costs for teams who wish to move up. The PM-18 adds more power over the USF-17 from a Mazda SKYACTIV engine, more sophisticated aerodynamics with a revised underbody and diffuser, a three-element rear wing and a front wing with adjustable composite wing flaps. The PM-18 also adds a higher level Cosworth data system to help train the next level of drivers and engineers in the Mazda Road to Indy.

“All of us at Mazda will be thrilled to see and hear the next generation USF2000 and Pro Mazda cars,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “As it has been from the start, our primary goal with the Mazda Road to Indy has been to train drivers and see their skills develop through all the steps of the program – all the way to the Indy 500. These next generation cars provide all of the technology, safety and reliable Mazda powerplants that allows young talent to focus on their driving. The Mazda brand is all about driving and the joy that comes from driving a well-engineered car. I am confident there will be many happy and smiling drivers behind the wheel of these new machines.”

The new USF2000 chassis will be unveiled at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next May. Prototype testing is expected to begin in June with car deliveries taking place in the fall. A similar schedule will follow for Pro Mazda.

“With the recent launch of the new IL-15 Indy Lights cars, Dan Andersen has replicated his model for success with these two new cars,” stated Chris Pantani, Cooper Tires’ Director of Motorsports. “Cooper Tire has been grateful to be part of the driver development since the inception of the Road to Indy program. Now, Dan has taken the vehicle development to the next level with state-of-the-art cars for the next two rungs of the Road to Indy, solidifying its place as the one true path to Indianapolis.”

Renderings of the new USF-17 and PM-18 will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

“All of us at Tatuus are very happy and very motivated to have been chosen as partners by Dan Andersen and his team at Andersen Promotions to develop the new Pro Mazda and USF2000 cars,” said Gianfranco De Bellis, CEO of Tatuus. “Dan and I first collaborated back in the late ‘90s, our company’s first experience in the United States, and I have fantastic memories. We will work very hard to offer all of the teams a great product. This is a tremendous opportunity for us in a country with a deep history in motorsports and we are very honored.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.