The Indy Lights series will return next year with a significant number of changes aimed at improving car counts, advancement to the NTT IndyCar Series, driver safety, and forging a new pipeline outside of the Road to Indy.
On the vehicular front, the fleet of 2015 Dallara IL-15s will be outfitted with new titanium halos, and to assist the 2021 champion in their quest to satisfy the budgetary needs to land a seat in the big series, the title winner will have $1.25 million in hand to secure a three-race deal, including the Indy 500.
Well-established with its three tiers of USF2000, Indy Pro 2000, and Indy Lights, the Road to Indy will offer a new scholarship for the winner of the rival Formula Regional Americas series to compete at the top step of the ladder. Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist, newly-crowned FRA champion, will join the Indy Lights series in 2021 alongside 2019 Indy Pro 2000 and scholarship winner Kyle Kirkwood, who was unable to use his advancement prize due to the cancellation of the Lights season, and the upcoming winner of the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 championship.
Another new feature of providing IndyCar tests for the top three in the Lights championship was also unveiled. A 10-event, 18-race calendar is expected to be confirmed before the end of the month.
“After careful planning with the IndyCar team, we are pleased to confirm the exciting addition of a season-ending IndyCar test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway soon after the 2021 season,” said Dan Andersen, whose Andersen Promotions firm runs the Road To Indy. “We continue to explore additional ways to strengthen the Indy Lights championship. In the interim, we want to spread the word that Indy Lights will be back and it will be stronger than ever.”
For Kirkwood, the pre-season championship favorite signed to Andretti Autosport, the resumption of his march towards IndyCar was welcome news.
“As of two weeks ago everything was up in the air, so now with the new halo, and the IndyCar tests and everything else, it’s a great step forward,” the Floridian told RACER. “I’ve driven a car with the halo, and it’s a great thing for us to have in Indy Lights. I’m so glad there’s now something in place. This whole year has been in limbo, but I’ve been able to put things together in IMSA in LMP3, and if it wasn’t for the lack of a season in Indy Lights, I doubt I’d have looked to race somewhere else, so this has been a good development in sports cars and we’ve made the best of it.”
The HMD Motorsports team planned to field a three-car Indy Lights program in 2020, but diverted its efforts to FRA. According to team manager Mike Maurini, HMD is headed back and has received a number of encouraging inquiries.
“The announcement is exciting, and everybody knows David Malukas is going to come back and run the 2021 season, and we’ve been speaking the three other drivers, some in Europe, who want to come race in the United States, and they’d be front-runners,” he said. “We’ll run two cars, for sure, and want to run three, so it’s a case of finding a funded driver to be in that car. When we switched to FRA program, we kept everybody that was with is to start the year, kept everybody paid, and our team owner Henry Malukas has taken care of the entire team. We know Andretti is the benchmark, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”