PALMETTO, Fla. — The promoter of the Road to Indy "ladder" program has renamed the Pro Mazda series the Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires, reflecting Mazda North America Operations' withdrawal as the racing series' principal sponsor.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship — which will continue to use the Tatuus PM-18 open-wheel chassis introduced in 2017 and powered by a 275-hp 2-liter Mazda-based racing engine — is the middle step on the Road to Indy ladder, sandwiched between the entry-level Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires,
The ladder program, which also carries sponsorship from Cooper Tire, is designed to support up-and-coming drivers as they progress toward competing in the IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500.
Indy Pro 2000 competitors next season will vie for a champion's purse valued at $596,700 to progress to Indy Lights, according to Andersen Promotions.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship will comprise 16 races at nine venues in 2019, starting March 9-10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., where all three levels of the Road to Indy will be in action supporting the IndyCar race there as well.
"We are indebted to the tremendous support of Mazda over the past nine years, but now, as the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires legacy continues to grow, we feel the time is right to introduce a new look as we head into a new season," Andersen Promotions Owner and CEO Dan Andersen said.
Cooper has been involved in the Road to Indy ladder program since 2010 as a tire supplier and presenting sponsor for the various ladder steps.