INDIANAPOLIS – In a bit of some shocking news to come out on Tuesday, Mazda announced that they will be pulling the plug on the Verizon IndyCar Series support series’ at the end of the 2018 season. The California based company sated that they would like to focus their resources elsewhere and is terminating their involvement with Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 at the end of the year.
The deal started in 2010 and has been a great marriage ever since.
The Mazda Road To Indy program has graduated several talented drivers through the ranks and into INDYCAR rides. It was a system that truly worked. Part of the deal was each champion of each series was granted a scholarship to advance to the next step on the ladder. The USF2000 champion would get a scholarship to run the full Pro Mazda season the next year. The Pro Mazda champion would get a deal to race in Indy Lights the next season and the Lights champion would get a 3 race deal plus an Indianapolis 500 seat in INDYCAR.
While they won’t be involved in 2019, the scholarships will still be granted to this year’s champions.
“On behalf of Mazda, I’d like to thank Andersen Promotions and everyone involved with the Road to Indy for a wonderful nine years, but the time has come for Mazda to focus our resources into other areas of our motorsports footprint,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports regarding the future of Mazda’s role in the Road to Indy. We have truly enjoyed our role in developing young racers into Indy 500 hopefuls, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Andersen Promotions through the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup. The 2018 USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights champions will receive Mazda Advancement Scholarships for the 2019 season and the annual $200,000 Mazda Road to Indy Global shootout will also be held in December of this season. Motorsports is at the core of Mazda’s DNA and the company remains committed to its variety of motorsports programs in the coming years including our grassroots club racing initiatives, the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich, the Mazda Road to 24, and Mazda Team Joest.”
Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions said that despite losing Mazda, the structure in place will remain for 2019 and beyond.
“We would like to thank Mazda for nine tremendous years in supporting and headlining the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires,” said Andersen. “They have been a great partner and their scholarships have helped so many drivers achieve their dream of progressing to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Mazda has been a key player in establishing and helping to grow our driver development system into the unparalleled program it is today.
“They remain with us through the end of this season and will once again be awarding each of our series’ champions a scholarship to move up to the next step in 2019 as well as the winner of the USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout in December.
“As their marketing objectives pursue new horizons, we at Andersen Promotions are committed to maintaining the outstanding ladder structure we have in place for 2019 and beyond. We are currently in discussions with several potential companies as we actively pursue a new partner.”
INDYCAR wrote a statement in saying, “The Road to Indy program has staged great racing over the years while developing teams and drivers for the Verizon IndyCar Series, and that will continue with plans soon to be announced. Mazda has been a transformative partner, and INDYCAR is appreciative of its many contributions.”