|Category||Open wheel cars|
|Inaugural season||1986 (original)
2002 (IndyCar sanctioned)
|Tyre suppliers||Cooper Tires|
|Drivers' champion||Gabby Chaves|
|Teams' champion||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
Indy Lights is an American developmental automobile racing series sanctioned by IndyCar, formerly known as Firestone Indy Lights for sponsorship reasons. Previously, another series named Indy Lights filled the same role for CART and ran from 1986 to 1993 as the American Racing Series and Dayton Indy Lights from 1991 to 2001. The IndyCar sanctioned current series was founded in 2002 as the Infiniti Pro Series as a way to introduce new talent to IndyCar and coincided with Infiniti's departure from IndyCar's premier IndyCar Series.
- 1 Early origins
- 2 Original series (1986 to 2001)
- 3 Current series (2002 to present)
- 4 Champions
- 5 Drivers
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
During the early 1960s, open wheel cars were front engined roadsters. The primary ladder series included sprints and midgets. By the end of the decade, and into the 1970s, the cars evolved into rear-engine formula-style machines. Likewise, the feeder series began to follow the same mold. When USAC became the primary sanctioning body for top-level Indy car racing, the ladder of progression began to change.
USAC Mini Indy Series
The SCCA Super Vee and Formula Atlantic series were among the first formula-based ladder series. However, neither had any direct tie to USAC. In 1977, USAC started the "Mini-Indy" series, using Super Vee machines. The series ended after 1980 when USAC stopped sanctioning Indy car races outside of Indianapolis.
Following the end of the "Mini Indy" series, the driver pool in the early 1980s to CART and the Indy 500 was drawn in a largely unorganized fashion amongst Super Vees, Atlantics, SCCA, former Can-Am drivers, sprints, midgets, and even stock cars and off-road racing.
Original series (1986 to 2001)
After a void of an official ladder series for over five years, CART decided to take the effort in-house. The original Indy Lights series was formed as an open-wheeled racing series that acted as a developmental circuit for CART from 1986 to 2001. It was founded in 1986 as the American Racing Series (ARS). The series was renamed Indy Lights in 1991. The CART-sanctioned series became widely popular and secured the title sponsorship of Firestone. Later, Firestone's subsidiary Dayton Tires took over as tire supplier and title sponsor.
The Indy Lights schedule closely followed that of the CART series, with the noteworthy exception of Indianapolis. The series typically had a gap of up to a month while the primary CART teams raced at the Indy 500. The races were usually held the morning of the CART series races, as an undercard, support event. In early years, the Indy Lights series skipped superspeedway races such as Michigan, but eventually found its way to race there.
By the late 1990s and early 2000s, CART was suffering from financial problems. Meanwhile in 1996, the rival Indy Racing League was formed. CART canceled the minor league outright after the 2001 season. By this time, the Toyota Atlantic series was equally effective in providing CART with new drivers. In addition, the Atlantics served as a springboard for such drivers as Greg Ray, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Richie Hearn to enter the IRL. The Atlantics effectively became CART's primary feeder system, and later became Champ Car World Series' official in-house feeder championship for a time.
A spec-series, CART Indy Lights used March chassis (essentially a modified 85B Formula 3000 chassis, renamed to Wildcat) from 1986 to 1992. Lola provided chassis from 1993 to 2001. Buick V6 engines were used for its entire existence.
Around the same time period, an unrelated minor-league open wheel series, the American Indycar Series was also founded, using older CART chassis.
Current series (2002 to present)
The current series was founded by the Indy Racing League and began racing in 2002, the year after the original series' demise. Prior to the series' inception, the Indy Racing League had no in-house developmental league. It is a spec series using a TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) developed 3.5L version of the V8 engine used in the Infiniti Q45 combined with Dallara chassis producing 420 horsepower (310 kW). The series initially struggled to attract drivers and some races have had fewer than 10 entrants. However, with the introduction of a number of road-course races to the schedule in 2005, many of America's top prospects like Marco Andretti and Phil Giebler were attracted to the series to run part-time schedules on road courses. In 2006, a boost in prize money even further increased car counts to 16 or more, with an even six oval and six road course mix. The selected races being double races, and a stand-alone race (independent of the IndyCar Series) were scheduled on the USGP weekend.
The series was called the Menards Infiniti Pro Series (MIPS) until 2006 when both Menards and Nissan dropped their sponsorship of the series. It was then known as the Indy Pro Series. 2007 car counts improved further with 20 or more cars in every race. On March 26, 2008, the series announced a changing of names. The historical records and proprietary information of Champ Car were acquired by the IRL. The series then became known as Firestone Indy Lights. The name reflects the heritage of the original Indy Lights series, which has been merged into the current series' official history.
The centerpiece of the Indy Lights schedule is the Firestone Freedom 100, contested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Friday prior to the Indianapolis 500. The series also held a support race for the U.S. Grand Prix, the Liberty Challenge, from 2005 to 2007. It was the series' only event that was not a support race to an IndyCar event.
On September 9, 2007, during the Chicagoland 100, Logan Gomez beat Alex Lloyd by 0.0005 seconds (approximately 1.65 inches (42 mm) at 188 mph) which reflects the closest recognized finish in the over century-long history of organized automobile racing throughout the world. In 2008, the margin was established by the Guinness Book of World Records as the closest finish ever in a car race.
On May 24, 2013, Peter Dempsey captured his first Indy Lights win in the Freedom 100 in the closest finish in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history (0.0026 secs) in a four-wide finish.
In June 2013, it was announced that the series would be promoted by Andersen Promotions beginning in 2014. INDYCAR sanctioning will remain. In August it was announced that Cooper Tire would replace Firestone as the official tire of the series in 2014. The result being that all three levels of the Road to Indy leading up to the IndyCar Series will be promoted by Andersen and feature Cooper tires, beginning in 2014. The Andersen team is implementing a number of cost-reducing updates to the chassis and engine package in 2014 and will be introducing a new chassis and engine combination in 2015. On October 31, 2013, the series announced that Dallara would be the manufacturer of the fourth-generation Indy Lights chassis and it would be named the Dallara IL-15. On November 1, 2013 a new logo was unveiled for the Indy Lights series On November 26 it was announced that the engine for the new package would be a 2.0L turbocharged MZR-R four cylinder engine, tuned to last a full season of competition and producing 450 horsepower, with push-to-pass offering an additional 50 horsepower.
- Width: 75 in (1,905 mm)
- Length: 191.5 in (4,864 mm)
- Height: 37 in (940 mm)
- Wheelbase: 117 in (2,972 mm)
- Cockpit: 19 in (483 mm) wide
- Data Acquisition: Spec Pi Data system supplied with chassis measuring steering angle, shock travel, wheel speed, throttle, and four spare data channels
- Chassis: Open-wheel, single-seat, open-cockpit
- Aerodynamics: Stepped-plane underbody; outboard wings front and rear
- Construction: Monocoque contains cockpit, fuel cell, and front suspension. Engine is a stressed (integral) member of chassis. Rear assembly contains gearbox and rear suspension members
- Materials: Carbon fiber and composites
- Manufacturer: Dallara
- Fuel Capacity: 25 US gal (95 L; 21 imp gal)
- Weight: 1,490 lb (676 kg) on ovals, 1,520 lb (689 kg) on road courses
- Manufacturer: Nissan/Infiniti built by Speedway Motors
- Capacity: 3,500 cc (3.5 L; 213.6 cu in)
- Configuration: 90-degree V8
- Power output: 420 hp (313 kW) at 8,200 RPM
- Fuel: Sunoco 100 RON unleaded gasoline
- Transmission: Six-speed sequential manual gearbox operated with gear lever
- Tyres: Cooper Tires (2014) Firestone (2002-2013)
- Size (front): 23.5 in (597 mm)
- Size (rear): 24.8 in (630 mm) on right side
24.5 in (622 mm) on left side
- Wheel Diameter: 15 in (381 mm)
- Wheel Width (front): 10 in (254 mm)
- Wheel Width (rear): 14 in (356 mm)
USAC Mini-Indy Series
|1977||Tom Bagley||Zink Z11||Volkswagen|
|Herm Johnson||Lola T324||Volkswagen|
|1978||Bill Alsup||Argo JM2||Volkswagen|
|1980||Peter Kuhn||Ralt RT1/RT5||Volkswagen|
- 1977: Bagley and Johnson tied in the points and were declared co-champions.
1 Chaves and Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports were tied in points and wins (4 each). Chaves won the title based on more second-place finishes (5 vs 1).
The following drivers have signed to compete in the 2015 Indy Lights season:
Indy Lights Graduates who have competed in the IndyCar Series
Other notable ARS & Indy Lights alumni
- "To the fourth degree". IndyCar.com. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- "Closest finish recognized as world record". IndyCar.com. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Marot, Michael. Indianapolis Motor Speedway With Historic Final Lap, Huffington Post, 24 May 2013, Retrieved 2013-05-24
- Andersen Promotions to take over Indy Lights, Racer, June 20, 2013, Retrieved 2013-10-22
- Cooper Tires Named Official Tire Of New Indy Lights Series, Performance Racing Industry, August 22, 2013, Retrieved 2013-10-22
- DiZinno, Tony. No surprise: Indy Lights confirms Dallara for new 2015 chassis, NBC Sports, October 31, 2013, Retrieved 2013-10-31
- Pruett, Marshall. Indy Lights series selects 2015 engine supplier, Racer, November 26, 2013, Retrieved 2013-11-26
- Firestone Indy Lights Tech