Road to Indy
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[Visit RoadToIndy.Info for a full overview of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.]

What do Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Gabby Chaves and Spencer Pigot have in common? All are graduates of series comprising the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – one of the most successful driver development programs in the world, providing a unique, scholarship-funded path to reach the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.

Since its launch in 2010, the Road to Indy ladder system has attracted competitors from around the globe. Drivers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been part of the grids, showcasing their talents at premier venues on a mix of road courses, temporary street circuits and ovals.

From “The World’s Fastest Spring Break Party” in St. Petersburg, Fla., to the famed Brickyard – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – drivers compete on the NTT IndyCar Series stage in front of large crowds and television cameras as well as team owners, sponsors and media.

Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the Road to Indy provides drivers, teams and sponsors an opportunity to gain valuable experience on and off the track while following a clear-cut path of progression through three development series: Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Spencer Pigot, 25, exemplifies the success of the Road to Indy platform.

Pigot, who began karting at age 9, made the move into car racing in 2009, winning the Skip Barber Shoot-Out Top Scholarship Award and a season of competition in the 2010 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Series Presented by Mazda as an official Mazda Development driver. He claimed the title as a rookie to secure another Mazda scholarship prize and ensure his graduation onto the first step of the Road to Indy, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, in 2011.

After consecutive runner-up finishes in the USF2000 title-chase, Pigot capped another two years in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by winning the crown and another scholarship prize in 2014 which enabled him to move on to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2015. 

Pigot earned his fourth scholarship - a prize valued at $1M with a guaranteed three-race program in IndyCar including the Indianapolis 500 - by claiming the 2015 Indy Lights title and made his NTT IndyCar Series debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing in 2016. He now drives full-time for Ed Carpenter Racing.

THE PROGRESSION STEPS

  • Drivers begin on the Road to Indy in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, a revival of the highly regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006. The goal of the series is to provide a professional, entry-level open-wheel training ground serving as the first step on the ladder to an NTT IndyCar Series career.
  • From there, drivers move on to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, formerly known as the Star Mazda Championship then the Pro Mazda Championship, which has developed NTT IndyCar Series stars Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal and rising stars Spencer Pigot and Kyle Kaiser among others.
  • From Indy Pro 2000, drivers move into Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. Indy Lights has long been a vital step for competitors to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in America, boasting over 100 drivers as graduates.

“For so many years, there were too many options in junior formula racing and it was so tough for drivers coming up to make the right decision on where to run,” said James Hinchcliffe, NTT IndyCar Series race winner, 2011 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year and Indy Lights/Indy Pro 2000 graduate.

“Now, not only is there a clearly defined path, but the Road to Indy has all the best series that lead so well into one another. All the cars are great learning tools to develop for the next step and now you’ll see drivers arriving at each level a lot more prepared. It speaks volumes to INDYCAR’s commitment to the long term health of open-wheel racing in North America that they have created this system.”