Mazda Road To Indy prize guarantees three IndyCar races, but Spencer Pigot's ambition stretches beyond
Reigning Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot says he has several IndyCar teams interested in delivering the three guaranteed race entries that are part of his title-winning prize. However, he tells Motorsport.com that his aim remains a full-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2016.
California-born, Florida-domiciled Pigot claimed the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires crown at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca three weeks ago, and is currently hunting for sponsorship that would enable a full season at the top level. Meanwhile Dan Andersen, owner of all three tiers of the Mazda Road To Indy, is weighing up the offers from teams that have shown interest in Pigot’s services next year.
Pigot explains: “The teams I’m eligible to drive for as part of the $1 million, three-race package had to submit their proposals to Dan, and I think there were five of those. So that’s a good selection. One of the races is guaranteed to be Indy, so that’s great. Way back my goal was to be in the 100th running of the Indy 500, so that’s worked out well.
“I’m hoping we’ll get something figured out in the next two weeks. Then, once we have that three-race deal done, then hopefully we can all go out – myself and the team’s people – and search for more funding together.”
Driving for Juncos Racing, Pigot won the Pro Mazda championship in 2014, and scored six wins and four other podium finishes on his way to the Lights crown this year. 2015 was the first season of the turbocharged Dallara IL15-Mazda AER, designed specifically to handle and deliver its power like a junior version of the current DW12 Indy car.
In that regard, Pigot has few worries. He adapted well to IndyCar when he tested Will Power’s Team Penske-Chevrolet at Sonoma in August. He’s more concerned about finding enough money to make sure he’s not outbid on a full-time seat by other young drivers.
“I think having a part-time deal in place already will be encouraging for potential sponsors,” he says. “Right now I’m confident we’ll have money to do more than the three races, but I definitely don’t have enough for a whole season yet. And there are a few drivers with a couple million more than I have. There’s competition out there, for sure.”
This was the second year of Andersen operating IndyCar’s support series. His first Lights champion, Gabby Chaves, put in several impressive performances for Bryan Herta Autosport this year in IndyCar, despite being a rookie in a one-car team, and Herta has declared he wants Chaves back for a second season. Pigot is seeking a similar degree of permanence within IndyCar, and is pleased that Andersen and Mazda echo his sentiments.
“Everyone involved is keen to prove the Mazda Road To Indy works,” he says, “so it’s nice to have their momentum behind me. It’s not like Dan’s end goal was just to get the Lights champion three races! The main point of the system is to prove that USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights is the best way for drivers to progress and prepare for a long-term career in IndyCar. Dan wants to see us all succeed at the top level.
“So now I just want to get the first part of the deal done so I have more time to familiarize myself with whichever team we choose. I can’t tell you which teams are on the list, but I can tell you my decision will be based on the quality of the team and the quality of the teammate.
“But I think I’m in a good position with the people around me… and I think being an American helps too. In fact, I think I’ve ended up being the poster-child for the Mazda Road To Indy! I think that will help me, but also help IndyCar and also help draw more drivers to Dan's three series."