By Steve Wittich
TSO Ladder has learned from several reliable sources that the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series will take a break for the 2020 season.
From all indications, the Indy Lights series will return in 2021, and this announcement will not impact the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires or Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series.
“The effects of the global pandemic on businesses, including racing, have been severe,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The changes to our overall calendar of races as well as each event weekend’s scheduling and the ability for some of our drivers to compete has impacted the Indy Lights series far more harshly than our other two championships. With less of a cushion to begin with, it became increasingly apparent that the 2020 season was in jeopardy and the best plan was to take a pause, reconstitute for 2021, and do our best to enhance the Indy Lights championship for next season.
“After discussions with INDYCAR and understanding of their firm commitment to Indy Lights going forward, we, together, decided to suspend the 2020 Indy Lights season. We recognize that this will cause some hardships, but we hope all participants will realize the necessity of this decision and we look ahead to 2021 with a promise of better things to come.”
This season will be the first time since 1986 that Indy car will not have a top rung on Road To Indy.
Fabrizio Barbazza won the first championship while driving for Arciero Racing before moving to the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) PPG Indy Car World Series the following season. The 2019 champion, Oliver Askew, is a full-time driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with Arrow McLaren SP.
For the first 16-years, the series that began as the American Racing Series ran under sanction from CART and since 2002 has been sanctioned by INDYCAR.
Some of the current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers that got their start in Indy Lights include INDYCAR champions Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Sage Karam, Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, and Spencer Pigot.
Teams were first informed of the decision today, and the move is expected to be announced officially on Monday.
”The Road to Indy is extremely important to INDYCAR,” said Jay Frye, President of INDYCAR. “This was a difficult decision, knowing the impact it would have on the competitors and how disappointing it would be for the fans. However, it became clear, that we needed to focus our collective efforts on preparing for a strong 2021 Indy Lights season.”
This decision does not come as a big surprise, as at least three drivers expected to contest this season have decided to step back from their race programs.
TSO Ladder has reached out to the series and has not heard back from them yet. We will have more as we have a chance to catch up with a few more people.