Andersen Promotions, the group which owns and operates the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, announced that they’ve released an RFP to various chassis manufacturers with the intent of introducing an updated, modern, and common chassis for the first two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder program. The USF2000 Van Dieman and the Pro Mazda Star Car chassis have served the two series very well of the years, but both are showing their age, especially as the IndyCar and Indy Lights platforms have both received recent updates.
The new Indy Lights chassis, new for this current 2015 season, has been well received by the drivers and is a far better training ground for those aspiring to compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Not all teams have been thrilled by the new equipment as the change-over has meant an increase in their operating budgets. The new equipment meant all of their previous inventory of wheels and spare parts became suddenly obsolete. Sadly, Team Moore Racing was unable to answer the bell in 2015, and the long-time Indy Lights team had to shut their doors this summer.
To minimize the financial impact on the existing teams during the introduction of new equipment for the USF2000 and Pro Mazda series, the two series will share a common base chassis. This will give the selected manufacture the benefit of economy of scale which Dallara does not currently enjoy in the Indy Lights series. In addition to a common carbon-composite chassis, both platforms will also share a common engine, the well-developed and proven Mazda MRZ, a 2.0L normally aspirated inline four. The differences between the two platforms will involve increased aerodynamics and engine power for Pro Mazda. The USF2000 mapping will produce 170 hp with the Pro Mazda format generating 270 hp. The USF2000 version is slated to be introduced in 2017 with the Pro Mazda version following in 2018.
“The current USF2000 race car has served us very well for a long time and is still a terrific training vehicle, but the time has come to provide our teams and drivers with more current technology and upgraded safety. This new car will take many features from the worldwide F4 car, but will be built with important safety enhancements, higher performance and more driver tools. We believe it will be an even better trainer for the future stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“The Pro Mazda version, which will roll out a year later, will offer more horsepower and other aero improvements to effect the higher level of training that defines Pro Mazda as the next step in the Mazda Road to Indy. We have been thinking about producing new chassis for quite some time and we feel the time is right. This is a game changer and we are excited to announce these plans.” — Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions
On a sad note for Wankel fans, this means one less rotory-powered racing platform, but the power delivery and behaviour of the MRZ will better prepare drivers for the Mazda powerplant in the Indy Lights chassis as they progress up the development ladder. The commonality of equipment between the two series may also allow for more teams to become involved at both levels boosting the participation and competition. In the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen car counts wan in USF2000 and Pro Mazda, but this represents a good step forward and potentially spur future growth. Now to work on that MRTI TV package.