By Road to Indy
The ninth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Open Test will take place at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 19/20 providing new drivers the opportunity to test the waters in the unparalleled driver development platform and returning drivers the chance to make a head start on their 2020 campaigns. This year’s test will see an enhanced structure with additional value-added elements as part of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires traditional Summit program – an educational driver development component of the three ladder series.
The 2.439-mile, 14-turn Grand Prix road course will host the two-day outing named in memory of the former team manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who passed away suddenly in September 2011. All three levels of the Road to Indy will be on deck – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – with each series enjoying four and a half hours of track time over the course of the two-day test.
“With the recent announcements of our new partnerships with the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and the Lucas Oil School of Racing, we are extremely excited about this year’s Chris Griffis Test and the opportunity to introduce new drivers to our outstanding teams and series,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The test is always a great value-for-money outing and we are taking things a step further this year to enrich the experience for drivers off the track with additional components as part of our Summit training program.
“We look forward to seeing the drivers we currently have in our series sample the next step in their progression up the professional motorsports ladder and to welcoming a new crop of talent.”
Almost three dozen drivers representing 15 nationalities took part in last season’s Chis Griffis Open Test. Among them were several drivers seeking to move up the ladder, including Rinus VeeKay, Oliver Askew and Robert Megennis, all of whom were sampling the virtues of Indy Lights after successful campaigns previously in USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000, and newcomers such as New Zealander Hunter McElrea, who had aspirations of joining the Road to Indy after emerging as a front-runner in the Australian Formula Ford Championship.
“For me, driving at the Chris Griffis test was extremely useful,” said McElrea, who went on to win last year’s Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout and last weekend scored his first USF2000 win. “In 2017, it was my first taste of wings and slicks and I finished P4 overall. Last year was my second time and I finished P1 overall after another year of experience in Australian Formula Ford. It is not only a great way to get laps in Road to Indy machinery at the Speedway, but also to measure yourself against your potential competitors.”
The Chris Griffis test has proven just as valuable for teams as they begin preparations for the following season. Last year BN Racing ran an Indy Lights Dallara-AER IL-15 for the first time after starting out in USF2000 and then adding an Indy Pro 2000 element in 2018. Legacy Autosport, Jay Howard Driver Development and Miller Vinatieri Motorsports all used the 2018 test as an initial outing after previously confirming plans to join the USF2000 fray in time for the 2019 season.
“The Chris Griffis test is good for any driver looking to come to the Road to Indy because it gives them an opportunity to sample the cars, the tracks and the teams, and see how professional we are,” said Bryn Nuttall, BN Racing team principal. “Being a little later in the year, the test will be better for the European drivers who have finished their season, and obviously it’s good for drivers who are already here to step up to next year’s machinery and get started on preparations for next season.
“The additional off-track activities are a really good idea because the more engaging it can be for everyone, the more value we can add for people who are interested in the Road to Indy, the better it will be for everybody.”
Summit program activities will take on Friday, October 18, in addition to a track walk, and will include a behind-the-scenes visit to the headquarters of Ed Carpenter Racing, whose stable of drivers include Indy Lights champions Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot with Carpenter, himself, a graduate of Indy Lights; a tour of NTT IndyCar Series and Indy Lights chassis manufacturer Dallara, including its high-performance professional driver simulator; a presentation and demonstration by Jim Leo of PitFit Training – the industry leader in the development and implementation of driver performance training; and an evening outing/reception at Sarah Fisher’s Speedway Indoor Karting in Speedway, Ind., featuring special guests.
Registration details and a full schedule will be announced in the near future. Interested drivers can find contact information for teams on the respective series websites, and can also contact Series Development Director Jonny Baker at [email protected]