In 2010, the USF2000 National Championship, first rung in the Mazda Road to Indy, was revived after the series was reacquired by its original founder, Dan Andersen, and welcomed SCCA Formula Continental (FC) cars with 2.0L Ford Zetec and Pinto engines to compete in a National Class alongside the Championship Class Mazda MRZ powered Van Diemen chassis. In 2011, the SCCA Formula Enterprise (FE) was also included and participation in the entry-level series surged. In 2010, the average car count was a mere 12 entries, but it was the inaugural year. As the new series found its legs and FC teams and drivers found a new place to play, the car count began to pick up, averaging 15 for their second year. In welcoming of FE cars saw a significant increase as the grid swelled to an average of 29 cars over the season. That waned a bit in 2013 as the average dropped to 27 entries per race, but in 2014 and 2015, when the SCCA-specification cars were no longer permitted, the grid dropped to 20 and then to 16 cars. It’s a clear sign that there are still a lot of FC cars out there with people very interested in competing on a bigger stage than in their own regional or divisional SCCA club races.
It seems that Dan Andersen and Andersen Promotions which now owns both USF2000 and the Pro Mazda Championships, and operates the Indy Lights Series, has seen how significant the SCCA-spec interest is. In light of this, Andersen Promotions announced today that FC cars using either the Ford or the Mazda engine are welcome to compete in the reintroduced National Class of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, provided that they use Cooper Tires, of course, and include additional safety equipment such as wheel tethers, improved nose crash structures, and head surrounds and seats compliant with current Championship Class regulations. Race winners in the National Class earn a free entry into the next race event, while second place will be given a 50% discount on the entry fees. Furthermore, if the winner is using the Mazda MRZ, they will receive a contingency award of $1000 from Mazda. Finally, if the average National Class grid size is at least five cars per race weekend, the class champion will receive a free entry to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout and a chance to secure a full-season ride in the USF2000 Championship Class the following season.
“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy. RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.” — Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions
This is great move for the series and the Mazda Road to Indy program. While there are a lot of junior formula series out there, both here in North and South America, and in Europe, the Mazda Road to Indy has positioned itself as the primary way to graduate up into the Verizon IndyCar Series. There are other great development ladders beginning to form, not least of which is the SCCA Pro’s Formula 4 and Formula Lites championships which we highlighted in our past two episodes of The Cambered Corner with Paul Charsley and Jonathan Scarallo, but if you want to race in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Dan Andersen of Andersen Promotions along with Jason Penix of IndyCar have done a great job putting together a clear pathway for young drivers. As a photographer, I’m just happy that I’ll potentially be a little busier during the USF2000 races than I have been in the past couple of years.