My thoughts on the ailing Indy Lights series.
IndyCar returned to Pocono this weekend after an incredibly long hiatus, or so it seems. I think it’s something the series has needed to do for a long time, but today confirmed the other major improvement the series can make is dropping the Indy Lights Series. Did you know there was an Indy Lights race today?
The series has been on life support for a couple of years now, as it seems Dallara has stopped production of parts for the car, and it’s tough to run a racing series without a car, or more than 8 that is. News of bringing a new car into the mix was mentioned, but put on the back burner earlier this year.
I attended one of the last hurrahs of the Indy Lights series, in 2011 in Indianapolis. The field was strong. A success story won the title in Josef Newgarden.
Today however, it is a different story. The car counts are brutal. The series has next to no sponsorship support, and I feel the IndyCar brass, in their infinite wisdom are holding onto this series in the effort of mocking the A-B-C or (ARCA, Busch (Nationwide), Cup) ladder system.
While North America needs a development series for the biggest open wheel car championship in North America it has some pretty strong other series kicking around. Formula Mazda has always been entertaining, and has sponsor support. USF2000 scored the Cooper Tires support, enough to keep the series in the semi-limelight. Dan Andersen brought in a ton of costs savings to these (Road to Indy) series, but right now, I don’t think adding costs savings to a series with no cars, and no drivers is going to be successful.
But really, does North America need a development series for IndyCar? Looking at the field, there is only a large handful of Americans running, with some great talent coming from other places on the globe (with their own series to train in.)
If Dallara can get their fecal matter together, get a new car moving for the series and at a reasonable cost, and find an engine that doesn’t need to be overhauled every race...maybe Indy Lights can exist again.
In the meantime, I would rather watch the real youth talent drive some lower powered open wheel cars to victory than see the Schmidt and Andretti cars fight it out. Munoz again? Oh boy, that was exciting.