PALMETTO, Fla. — One of the highlights of the offseason for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test, which provides teams the opportunity to audition new talent and jumpstart their campaigns and new drivers the chance to sample the waters.
This year’s test will see competitors return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for a weekend outing at the Brickyard on Oct. 21-22.
For the first time, the revitalization of the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder system will be on display, as the new Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires Tatuus PM-18 chassis will make its debut.
The PM-18 joins the Dallara IL-15, which launched in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires in 2015, and the Tatuus USF-17, introduced to rave reviews this year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.
The first shipment of 15 cars will be delivered to teams in early September. The PM-18 rolling chassis is priced at $61,800 and will set the series standard for at least the next five years.
Last year, 43 drivers representing 12 countries participated in the Chris Griffis Memorial Test across the three series. The test also saw teams turn their first laps with the USF-17.
Of the 18 new faces that participated in USF2000 testing, 10 of those drivers now make up a 17-strong rookie class that includes Oliver Askew, Jason Clunie, Kory Enders, Kaylen Frederick, Dev Gore, Chandler Horton, Colin Kaminsky, Calvin Ming, Rinus VeeKay and Devin Wojcik.
The debut of the USF-17 also saw new teams entering the series, including DEForce Racing, Exclusive Autosport, Newman Wachs Racing and Team BENIK.
“To see all three new cars together for the first time is a culmination of a dream that started back in 2013 when we were in the process of taking over the operation of Indy Lights,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “I honestly can’t wait. It’s been a tremendous journey and I have to thank our partners Dallara and Tatuus, as well as our project managers Tony Cotman and Scot Elkins. They have really knocked it out of the ballpark with cars that are relevant to what we want to provide as a complete driver development system, highlighted by safety and technology.
“The Chris Griffis Memorial test is personally rewarding as I watch drivers take the next step on the ladder — including this year’s champions … who will move up with the benefit of Mazda Scholarships — and also welcome some new faces,” Andersen added. “We are excited to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is a key event in our regular season schedule that kicks off an exciting month of May.”
All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will return to action at the Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on June 22-25.
CREDIT: Andersen Promotions