Penske Entertainment, owner of the NTT IndyCar Series, has decided to regain full control and operational management of Indy Lights, the final stage of the Road to Indy ladder below the NTT IndyCar Series.
By Jeroen Demmendaal
The move will take effect after the 2021 season and is expected to see Penske Entertainment use its considerable commercial and media fire power to further amplify the reach of Indy Lights, according to series insiders consulted by F1 Feeder Series.
Indy Lights has been operated by Andersen Promotions since 2013, while remaining under formal ownership of IndyCar, the sanctioning body of the NTT IndyCar Series, and in extension of Penske Entertainment.
By combining Lights with its own Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 series, Andersen has created a streamlined and highly successful three-stage ladder series towards the IndyCar Series. Twenty of the 33 starters in the 2021 Indianapolis 500 were Indy Lights graduates, including seven Indy Lights champions.
Team owners and managers were told earlier this week by Andersen Promotions that its contract for operating Indy Lights is expiring this year. A transfer of Indy Lights operational management back to INDYCAR had been discussed since earlier this season, with a final decision made last week.
Teams were also told that the decision follows from a desire within the Penske organisation to manage all series it owns with its own staff, rather than through a third-party operator such as Andersen. Indy Lights will continue to be included at the post-season Chris Griffis test, scheduled for October.
Speaking to some series insiders, F1 Feeder Series found an expectation that Indy Lights could become even more commercially viable under full Penske control. While details are still scarce and no decisions have been made yet, options could include more sponsor opportunities, a closer collaboration with IndyCar teams and an improved TV presence for Indy Lights.
While the 2021 season started with 13 full-time competitors, the departure of drivers like Toby Sowery and Alex Peroni has reduced those numbers somewhat in the last two rounds. Rasmus Lindh has partly compensated for that loss by joining Juncos Racing for the last three rounds.
For 2022, the field is expected to grow to a healthy 15–18 cars, as reported before by F1 Feeder Series. Andretti Autosport and HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group will both continue to field four cars, while Juncos Racing and Carlin are expected to return with two each. Pserra Racing is also keen to expand to two cars.
The series will also see a number of new teams. TJ Speed Motorsports has already announced its entry into Indy Lights from 2022 with two cars, while F1 Feeder Series could reveal earlier this year that two existing Road to Indy teams are expected to announce an Indy Lights entry before the end of this year.
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