Mazda Road to Indy announces 2015 Winterfest dates

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One of the interesting and unique things that Andersen Promotions has done for the Mazda Road to Indy is to offer a pre-season two-weekend competition series, the Cooper Tires Winterfest. This year’s series, which is slated for mid and late February, will be the fifth Winterfest which began with the revival of the USF2000 National Championship. In the years since, the program has grown to include the Pro Mazda Championship, and the IndyLights Series. USF2000 and Pro Mazda will hold six races at the New NOLA Motorsports Park just outside of New Orleans, LA, and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. On their allotted dates, each venue will host three USF2000 and Pro Mazda races, and the Indy Lights series will hold three testing sessions.

Many series hold open pre-season testing sessions, and occasionally you’ll hear about private testing sessions, but being fast driver and being a fast racer are two very different things. The Winterfest gives teams the opportunity to evaluate talent in a competitive environment rather than the usual environment of simply circulating on one’s own a few laps at a time.

For teams that already have their drivers signed for the upcoming season, the Winterfest serves as a good opportunity for the engineers, mechanics, and drivers to start sorting out their machines. While the USF2000 Van Diemen chassis, and the Pro Mazda Star Cars chassis haven’t changed significantly over the last few seasons, the IndyLights series equipment will change significantly for 2015 as the series adopts the new Dallara IL-15. There’s a bit of controversy about this chassis. Some are excited about the prospect of new equipment after running the previous platform for over a decade, while others are upset over the costs especially given the participation level and sponsorship value. That’s a topic for another post, though.

“The Cooper Tires Winterfest provides a great first glimpse of the talent we have onboard for the upcoming season. It’s a chance to welcome new and returning drivers and also watch our graduates take their next steps on the ladder. Obviously, I am especially excited this year with the debut of the Dallara IL-15 and very much look forward to seeing the progress our teams make with this new package after such a successful prototype testing program.

“I want to thank our tremendous partners at Cooper Tires for continuing to support this pre-season championship as well as enhancing the prize package for our competitors.” — Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions

While video probably won’t be in the offering for the Winterfest, audio commentary from Rob Howden likely will be available as well as live timing and scoring at USF2000.com, ProMazdaChampionship.com, and IndyLights.com. Below are the Winterfest schedules.

NOLA Motorsports Park
Tuesday, February 17

  • 12:00pm, Indy Lights Load–‐In

Wednesday, February 18

  • 9:00am–‐12:00am, Indy Lights Testing
  • 12:00pm–‐1:00pm, Lunch Break
  • 12:00pm–‐5:00pm, USF2000/Pro Mazda Load–‐in
  • 1:00pm–‐5:00pm, Indy Lights Testing
  • 4:00pm, USF2000/Pro Mazda Crew Chief Meeting

Thursday, February 19

  • 8:00am–‐11:00pm, Indy Lights Testing
  • 10:00am, USF2000/Pro Mazda Driver Meeting
  • 11:15am–‐11:45am, USF2000 Practice
  • 12:00pm–‐12:30pm, Pro Mazda Practice
  • 12:30pm–‐1:30pm, Lunch
  • 1:30pm–‐2:00pm, USF2000 Qualifying
  • 2:30pm–‐3:00pm, Pro Mazda Qualifying
  • 3:30pm–‐4:00pm, USF2000 Race 1
  • 4:30pm–‐5:00pm, Pro Mazda Race 1

Friday, February 20

  • 9:00am–‐9:20am, USF2000 Warm–‐up
  • 9:30am–‐9:50am, Pro Mazda Warm–‐up
  • 10:15am–‐10:45am, USF2000 Race 2
  • 11:15am–‐11:45am, Pro Mazda Race 2
  • 11:45am–‐1:00pm, Lunch
  • 1:00pm–‐1:30pm, USF2000 Practice
  • 1:45pm–‐2:15pm, Pro Mazda Practice
  • 2:30pm–‐3:00pm, USF2000 Race 3
  • 3:30pm–‐4:00pm, Pro Mazda Race 3

Barber Motorsports Park
Monday, February 23

  • 12:00pm, Indy Lights Load-­‐In

Tuesday, February 24

  • 9:00am-­‐12:00am, Indy Lights Testing
  • 12:00pm-­‐1:00pm, Lunch Break
  • 12:00pm-­‐5:00pm, USF2000/Pro Mazda Load-­‐in
  • 1:00pm-­‐5:00pm, Indy Lights Testing
  • 4:00pm, USF2000/Pro Mazda Crew Chief Meeting

Wednesday, February 25

  • 8:00am-­‐11:00pm, Indy Lights Testing
  • 10:00am, USF2000/Pro Mazda Driver Meeting
  • 11:15am-­‐11:45am, USF2000 Practice
  • 12:00pm-­‐12:30pm, Pro Mazda Practice
  • 12:30pm-­‐1:30pm, Lunch
  • 1:30pm-­‐2:00pm, USF2000 Qualifying
  • 2:30pm-­‐3:00pm, Pro Mazda Qualifying
  • 3:30pm-­‐4:00pm, USF2000 Race 1
  • 4:30pm-­‐5:00pm, Pro Mazda Race 1

Thursday, February 26

  • 9:00am-­‐9:20am, USF2000 Warm-­‐up
  • 9:30am-­‐9:50am, Pro Mazda Warm-­‐up
  • 10:15am-­‐10:45am, USF2000 Race 2
  • 11:15am-­‐11:45am, Pro Mazda Race 2
  • 11:45am-­‐1:00pm, Lunch
  • 1:00pm-­‐1:30pm, USF2000 Practice
  • 1:45pm-­‐2:15pm,Pro Mazda Practice
  • 2:30pm-­‐3:00pm, USF2000 Race 3
  • 3:30pm-­‐4:00 pm, Pro Mazda Race 3
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