IndyCar, sanctioning body of the Mazda Road to Indy development series, has announced the creation of the Pro Mazda Championship.
The series will be owned and operated by Andersen Promotions—administrator of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda—and will fill the opening vacated by the Star Mazda Championship. A key level on the Mazda Road to Indy bridging the gap between USF2000 and Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda operated under the leadership of founder Gary Rodrigues, who recently announced that the series would conclude following a 22-year run.
Graduates of Star Mazda include IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Raphael Matos and Graham Rahal, and rising stars Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier amongst many others.
The Pro Mazda Championship will utilize the same equipment as the former Star Mazda Series, including the 260-horsepower Mazda “Renesis” rotary engine. The full 2013 schedule will be unveiled next week.
The tradition of awarding a scholarship from Mazda for the series’ champion to advance to Firestone Indy Lights competition the following year will remain in place, and a full prize money and award summary will be available in the coming days. Bill Van De Sandt, IndyCar’s Director of Operations, will remain as race director for the series.
Andersen Promotions is led by Dan Andersen, owner and Chief Executive Officer, who founded and led the original USF2000 Championship from 1991 to 2001, turning it into one of the top open-wheel development series in the world. After an eight-year absence, Andersen revived the series in 2010 as part of the Mazda Road to Indy.
He has also been a successful team owner in USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights and currently owns and operates an extensive karting venture and test track in Palmetto, Florida.