Road to Indy
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[Visit RoadToIndy.Info for a full overview of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.]

The relevance of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – one of the most acclaimed driver development programs in the world – as a springboard to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has never been more apparent. The 2021 grid is peppered with graduates of the ladder system including Conor Daly, Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Jones, Dalton Kellett, Josef Newgarden, Patricio O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist and Rinus VeeKay.

Since its launch in 2010, the Road to Indy ladder system has attracted competitors from around the globe. Drivers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been part of the grids, showcasing their talents at premier venues on a mix of road courses, temporary street circuits and ovals.

From wide-open expanses of Road America to the famed Brickyard – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – drivers compete on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES stage in front of large crowds and television cameras as well as team owners, sponsors and media.

Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the Road to Indy provides drivers, teams and sponsors an opportunity to gain valuable experience on and off the track while following a clear-cut path of progression through three development series: Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay are the latest drivers to exemplify the success of the Road to Indy program. Both made a meteoric progression from karting to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in less than four years.

Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., paved the way toward a successful career by earning no fewer than three scholarships during that period, including championship crowns in both USF2000 and Indy Lights. He served notice of his talent by earning a podium finish during his rookie INDYCAR campaign in 2020.

VeeKay, from Hoofddorf, Netherlands, played second fiddle to Askew in both USF2000 and Indy Lights. But he dominated the middle rung of the ladder, Indy Pro 2000, in 2018, and continued his rise to prominence by securing last year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year honors.

“The Road to Indy was the whole foundation of my career,” VeeKay said. “It was an amazing experience. Great people (and a) great rivalry with Oliver Askew and all the other talented drivers who really pushed me to get better and better and to improve every time. I’m very grateful to everyone at the Road to Indy who helped me to make it to INDYCAR and make me the person I am today.”

THE PROGRESSION STEPS

  • Drivers begin on the Road to Indy in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, a revival of the highly regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006. The goal of the series is to provide a professional, entry-level open-wheel training ground serving as the first step on the ladder to an NTT INDYCAR SERIES career.
  • From there, drivers move on to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, formerly known as the Pro Mazda and Star Mazda Championships, whose past graduates include Marco Andretti, Oliver Askew, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kirkwood, Spencer Pigot, Graham Rahal, Zach Veachand Rinus VeeKay.
  • From Indy Pro 2000, drivers move into Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. Indy Lights has long been a vital step for competitors to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in America, boasting over 100 drivers as graduates.

“For so many years, there were too many options in junior formula racing and it was so tough for drivers coming up to make the right decision on where to run,” said James Hinchcliffe, NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winner, 2011 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year and Indy Lights/Indy Pro 2000 graduate.

“Now, not only is there a clearly defined path, but the Road to Indy has all the best series that lead so well into one another. All the cars are great learning tools to develop for the next step and now you’ll see drivers arriving at each level a lot more prepared. It speaks volumes to INDYCAR’s commitment to the long term health of open-wheel racing in North America that they have created this system.”