Schmidt Peterson has closed down its hugely successful Indy Lights team in a move that team owner Sam Schmidt has described as “one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in the last 15 years.”
Just two months after his lead Lights driver Santiago Urrutia was narrowly beaten to the 2016 title by Carlin Racing’s Ed Jones at Laguna Seca, Schmidt has shuttered the operation.
Speaking to Trackside Online, Schmidt said: “It’s unfortunate. We went from coming away from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca thinking that we might be able to facilitate all three support series and the IndyCar program, to two months later not being able to support any of it.
“I think the majority of the reason is simply just economics on both sides. Things are going so well on the IndyCar program; the commercial side is doing well, the team doing well, and given the complexity and the size and scope of those programs, I felt guilty splitting my time between Indy Lights and IndyCar.”
Schmidt, whose team won seven Indy Lights titles from 2004 to ’13, also revealed to TSO that the SAM project, the semi-autonomous Corvette which he is now licensed to drive despite being quadriplegic, had taken time away from his pursuit of seeking drivers with talent and funds for his Indy Lights team.
He said: “I’ve got the SAM project, I’ve got nine or ten times I’m going to drive the Corvette next year. I’ve got a lot of good things going on with the IndyCar program [in which he hopes to run a part-time third car next year ], and our foundation. The biggest thing that was getting left behind out of pure lack of bandwidth was the Indy Lights programs.”