Penske Entertainment is expected to reclaim control of the IndyCar-owned Indy Lights series.
Rumors of Penske’s interest in resuming operational command of Indy Lights have circulated since the company purchased the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the beginning of 2020, and with momentum gaining on the topics in recent weeks, Indy Lights appears to be leaving Andersen Promotions at the end of the season.
“No comment,” an IndyCar spokesperson told RACER last weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Dan Andersen, who runs the Road To Indy open-wheel ladder organization with his daughter Michelle Kish, said “No final decision has been made.”
With an ageing chassis and engine combination, IndyCar sought to revitalize Indy Lights in the early 2010s by courting new designs and suppliers to energize the championship. But with a lack of budget committed to the series by IndyCar, the effort stalled, leaving the IndyCar’s leaders to find a new promoter capable of succeeding where it failed.
Enter Andersen Promotions, Mazda, and Cooper Tires in 2013, when the trio added Indy Lights to the existing ladder of USF2000 and Star Mazda, the forerunner of Indy Pro 2000. A new Indy Lights car was soon commissioned from Dallara, which began testing in 2014 and racing in 2015 using a new Mazda-badged four-cylinder turbo engine package from AER. For the 2021 season, titanium cockpit halos were added the Dallara IL15s to improve driver safety.
Despite suffering through a few lean years, Indy Lights has delivered double-digit entries all season and features the participation of three IndyCar teams in Andretti Autosport, Carlin Racing, and Juncos Hollinger Racing, along with HMD/GRG Motorsports. After eight years of running Indy Lights, it’s believed Andersen Promotions’ contract was up at the end of the year, which led Penske to set things in motion to move the property in-house.
RACER understands that while Indy Lights is all but guaranteed to move back within IndyCar’s administration, Andersen’s first two steps of the Road To Indy ladder are expected to continue running in support of the NTT IndyCar Series at numerous events as it has for more than a decade.
Andretti’s Kyle Kirkwood overtook HMD’s David Malukas in the Indy Lights standings last weekend after taking a pair of wins at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The title will be decided over the October 1-3 event at Mid-Ohio with the winner claiming a $1.3 million advancement prize from Andersen and IndyCar to help launch their career in the big series next year.