By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Road to Indy will look different on the Indy Lights side of things next season. Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles confirmed Friday that Penske Entertainment will take over sanctioning body and promotional operations.
This role that was previously run by Andersen Promotions. Dan Andersen’s entity will continue running the other two RTI divisions (Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000) beyond 2021.
“It has been our pleasure and honor to oversee the promotion and organization of Indy Lights for these past eight seasons,” said Andersen. “We are proud of the results demonstrated by the quick success of our many recent graduates. The Road to Indy works as a training program, and we will continue to develop young drivers and move them up to Indy Lights and, ultimately, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”
Miles told Motorsports Tribune when he began overseeing IndyCar, he wanted Andersen to grow RTI. With the position INDYCAR are in today, Penske Entertainment is ready to continue building Indy Lights and keep the relationship with Andersen Promotions in a positive light.
“We have a great relationship with Dan. We have enormous respect for him, his team, and the job that he’s done in growing RTI,” said Miles. “In my first year in this position, I asked Dan to take Lights from us and promote it. We’ve sort of outsourced it. At that time, we felt like that would’ve allowed for more focus on it by a guy that does a phenomenal job.
“We just feel like we’re now in a position where we can bring more benefits because of the strength of IndyCar. We needed to work through making the decisions and the detailed arrangements, and how we’ll help him with the first two rungs of RTI. It’s a great relationship and it’ll continue that way.”
For at least next year, Cooper Tires will continue being the official tire supplier of Indy Lights and the entire Road to Indy program.
One thing that won’t happen however is the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 40-lap race became a staple of Carb Day due to its exciting and thrilling finishes over the years. Oliver Askew won the last one in 2019, which ultimately ended the event’s 17-year run. As far as the 2022 schedule, it’ll be announced at a later date.
Indy Lights scholarship money was another subject of interest. Right now, the series champion will earn over $1.3 million that’ll guarantee a driver three NTT IndyCar Series races. Miles confirmed it’ll be another important announcement that’ll take place soon.
“We know the effect of the scholarships have been important. I expect to continue that idea, but it could take a different form,” said Miles. “Might not be just writing checks, but there are other ways we can create the same kind of level of value perhaps. It could insure similar ability for the winner of Indy Lights to move up in IndyCar.”
Indy Lights have one more race weekend set to commence October 1-3. It’ll take place at Mid-Ohio with the battle shaping out to come down to three guys. Those being Kyle Kirkwood, David Malukas and Linus Lundqvist. One of those drivers will earn the scholarship to run in IndyCar next season.