Since taking over the management of the Indy Lights series Andersen Promotions has been quietly ticking off their to-do list in respectable fashion.
Dan Andersen recently announced a new tire partner, new chassis, engine manufacture, bonus Indycar testing miles for Lights drivers, and a sweeping schedule change. They also recently announced a settlement to an ongoing legal dispute between a team owner and the series.
While I’m not privy to any information surrounding Mark Olson and his O2 Racing Technology team in 2011, it probably cost the series two cars. This year’s Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey and Michael Genier were both out of seats midway through 2011 as Olson ended up withdrawing his team after some behind-the-scenes dispute. Given the management of the Indy Lights at that time I don’t blame him, and hope he’ll return to the series in 2014. Regardless of what actually happened, having this settled is a good thing for the series.
Bringing in Cooper Tires is a good move, and since they are a presenting sponsor it leaves the opportunity open for a title sponsor to come along. Dallara will be providing a new chassis in 2015 that looks more like the outgoing car than the new DW12.
Advanced Engine Research Ltd will be providing the engines for the next five years. AER provides engines to a number of ladder series in Europe and races in the ALMS series. The new engine should be able to run a whole season, have a push to pass feature and allow for a manufacture badging at some point in the future.
The schedule is out, and it’s different from what we’ve seen in the last couple of years, and closer to what it was when the Indy Lights field featured twenty or more cars. There’s 14 races on the schedule with double headers at Barber Motorsport Park, the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Mid Ohio and Sonoma. While there are only three ovals on the schedule racing primarily on road courses and streets will probably result in less crash damage for the teams with two more races.
We already have four drivers and teams confirmed for 2014. Zach Veach will return to Andretti Autosport and be joined by second-generation phenom Matthew Braham. Bryan Herta Racing will return to the series full time with Englishman Lloyd Read behind the wheel. Canadian Zach Meyer will move up from Pro Mazda with Team Moore Racing
More drivers are on the horizon with British GP3 driver Jack Harvey tested with Sam Schmidt Motorsports at Seabring in November. Allegedly A.J. Foyt Enterprises will supposedly be expanding to Indy Lights with Tim Paul this year as well. Judging by his tweets Canadian teenager Matthew di Leo plans on being back with his own team.
Right now, it seems like a 12-15 car field is realistic, which while not amazing is an improvement over this year.
I have to say I’m very impressed with what Andersen promotions has done in a short time. They haven’t been perfect because they’re lacking a title sponsor and a manufacture involvement, but other than that they’ve done everything I could reasonably expect. It looks like the series is on the path to long-term stability, and at least 2014 should offer a bigger field then this year.