The Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, the INDYCAR-sanctioned development ladder that has paved the path to the Verizon IndyCar Series for nearly a decade, confirmed Monday the prize packages that will be awarded to its three series champions in 2019.
Andersen Promotions, which has operated the three-tiered ladder since 2014, announced that a combined $2 million in scholarships and prizes will be distributed to assist the champion at each level take the next step up the North American open-wheel racing ladder.
The 2019 champion in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires – the top rung of the RTI ladder – will earn $1.1 million dedicated to at least a three-race program in the 2020 IndyCar Series, including an entry in the 104th Indianapolis 500. The titlist in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires receives $596,700, consisting of a $500,000 scholarship and $96,700 in Cooper tires and entry fees toward a move to Indy Lights in 2020. The winner of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship next season will graduate to Pro Mazda in 2020, armed with a prize package of $305,600 that includes a $250,000 scholarship and $55,600 in Cooper tires and entry fees.
“We are pleased to announce the continuation of the highly regarded Road to Indy scholarship program for all three of our champions each year,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Our goal has always been to advance the careers of talented drivers to the IndyCar (Series) ranks, and these awards will help pave the way for even more Road to Indy stars to race in future Indy 500s. There are no driver development programs in the world with as much on offer.”
The value of the Road to Indy was typified in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Twenty-five of the 33 drivers who competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” had experience in at least one RTI level earlier in their careers.
Three of the four 2019 IndyCar Series rookies announced to date have previous RTI experience. Patricio O’Ward, Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist are all Indy Lights race winners, with O’Ward claiming the 2018 Indy Lights championship.
In 2019, Indy Lights boasts an 18-race schedule, Pro Mazda has 16 races and USF2000 has 15. All events will take place on the same tracks where the IndyCar Series competes, except for the Pro Mazda and USF2000 races on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval in May. All three Road to Indy series kick off their 2019 season with doubleheader race weekends on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, from March 8-10.