The future has arrived. Less than two weeks after a wet and wild Brickyard 400 week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, cars are back on track this weekend at the World’s Greatest Racecourse in Speedway, Indiana. Rain won’t stop any of the action this time, as the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course will be the center of attention. The Eighth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test will take place this Saturday and Sunday, for the Mazda Road to Indy series.
There are 32 entrants for this weekend’s test that is held in memory of long time crew chief and team manager Chris Griffis, who was part of Indy Lights championship winning teams at Panther Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
The two-day test is for all three development series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
After a low car count last season, the Indy Lights series looks to nearly double the entries for 2019. The ultimate prize for winning the championship is a $1.1 million scholarship prize that will ensure three races in the IndyCar Series in 2020, including the Indianapolis 500. The newly crowned champion, Patricio O’Ward, and runner-up Colton Herta, were just named as the full-time drivers for the Harding Steinbrenner Racing team for IndyCar next season.
There are nine Indy Lights cars entered in the test, three each for Andretti Autosport and Belardi Auto Racing, two cars for Juncos Racing, and an entry for Team Pelfrey. 2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni will be in the No. 6 car for Belardi, and recent race winner at Gateway Ryan Normal will return to the No. 48 car for Andretti.
Heamin Choi will be with Juncos Racing in the No. 7 car. The youngster from Busan, Korea is the only other driver with previous Indy Lights experience. Rinus VeeKay, Parker Thompson, and Oliver Askew claimed the top three spots in Pro Mazda this past season, and will all get a shot behind the wheel of the sleek 450-horsepower Dallara IL-15 machines.
Each series will have three 45-minute sessions on track each day, for a total of six sessions this weekend. The times for each are the same on both days, with a 30-minute lunch break. The Pro Mazda group also has nine entries, with five different teams participating. Seven of the nine drivers will get into the seat for the first time.
The USF2000 series will have the most cars (14) entered this weekend, among six different teams. Alex Baron and Andre Castro will be testing for Legacy Autosport, who is making their debut in the series. The team based out of nearby Lebanon, Indiana is owned and operated by veteran Road to Indy veteran and Indy Lights car chief Louis “Mike” Meyer. His great-grandfather was Louis Meyer, the first three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
Live timing and scoring for all sessions will be available on each of the respective series’ websites; IndyLights.com, ProMazda.com and USF2000.com, as well as the Mazda Road to Indy TV App and IndyCar.com.
The first round of the 2019 season begins March 9 on the streets of St Petersburg.
Ryan Norman had the fastest lap in Indy Lights, while Darren Keane led the way for Pro Mazda. Hunter McElrea was the fastest of the 14 drivers in the USF2000 series. The combined results of all six test sessions for each series are below.