This weekend, more than 40 drivers will weave their way around the Grand Prix circuit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is the sixth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Test, which will feature the new Tatuus USF-17 car for the USF2000 series.
All three Mazda Road to Indy levels of the open-wheel development ladder will participate in the test. Annual scholarships of more than $2.3 million are awarded to drivers in USF200, Pro Mazda, and Indy Lights. The two-day test (Oct 8, 9) is named in honor of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team manager Chris Griffis, who passed away in 2011.
At least 12 Indy Lights drivers will get their opportunity to lay down some laps at the speedway, Veteran Kyle Kaiser will be paired with Andre Negrao and Nicolas Dapero in the three Juncos Racing entries. Carlin, who just won the Lights title with Ed Jones, will field three cars to be driven by Zachary Claman De Melo, Neil Alberico, and Garth Rickards.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has had the most success in Lights, having won 74 races and 7 championships. They will have last year’s Pro Mazda champion, Aaron Telitz, in the car on Saturday. Telitz will then get behind the wheel of the No. 5 car for Belardi Auto Racing on Sunday. Andretti Autosport will have three cars, with drivers Nico Jamin, Richard Gonda, and Dalton Kellett.
Five drivers are scheduled to test in Pro Mazda. Jorge Cevallos and Victor Franzoni will be with Juncos Racing, and Team Pelfrey (winners of 13 of the 16 races in 2016) will have Joseph Burton-Harris, Bobby Eberle, and TJ Fischer in their three cars.Pro Mazda will transition to the new Tatuus PM-18 next summer, and the series will also have an expanded prize fund for 2017. The champion will have an $800,000 scholarship to take to Indy Lights, and the next two finishers will receive Indy Lights testing opportunities.
The most crowded series will be USF2000, where at least five new teams will make the transition full-time to the series. Newman Wachs Racing, Carlin Benik, DE Force Racing, Exclusive Autosport, and Kaminsky Racing will join the fold as the new USF-17 cars make their way around the 14-turn circuit.
To help with the learning curve of the new car, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing will have 2016 Indianapolis 500 starter and 2012 USF2000 champion Matthew Brabham in the cockpit of their No. 3 car. Oliver Askew and Tim de Silva will be behind the wheel of their other two entries.
The test will prepare teams and drivers for the 2017 season, which begins March 11-13 on the streets of St Petersburg.
Below are some photos from the weekend.