(James Black/IndyCar photo)

IndyCar Wants To Make Indy Lights A Better Farm System

INDIANAPOLIS – NTT IndyCar Series officials hope to create an even better farm system for young driving talent by taking over promotional responsibilities of Indy Lights.

IndyCar has had full ownership of Indy Lights, but Andersen Promotions and its owner Dan Andersen served as promoter of the series from 2014 through this past year.

“We’re excited to bring it back in-house,” IndyCar President Jay Frye told SPEED SPORT. “Dan Andersen did a great job. We are excited to have Levi Jones managing that program. 

“We are going to do as much as we can to make it as close as we can to IndyCar so that when drivers come out of that series, they can be more successful. We want to make it more IndyCar-like. From the on-track times we run to the inspection process to the rules to push-to-pass we are going to try things to make it as much like IndyCar as we can.

“We are excited to have them back.”

Many of the aforementioned changes will happen in 2023, according to Frye, because of the short transition time from IndyCar’s takeover.

Changes that will be evident this year include closer proximity of the Indy Lights and IndyCar tech pads and both paddocks will be closer together at the races.

Roger Penske’s plan for Indy Lights is to create incentives for full-time NTT IndyCar Series teams to start Indy Lights operations designed to help grow both series.

“There is some of that now with testing,” Frye said. “I think if you look at the history and success of the series, IndyCar teams have paid attention to that. There is even more of that when you mention the younger drivers that we have coming up this year and even the last couple of years. A lot of them have come from there. It’s a series that produces talent to the pipeline.

“A lot of drivers are saying now that the Indy Lights car has helped them emulate an Indy car. It’s working. If you are an IndyCar team, a lot of them want to have control of their own destiny so you have your own team and bring up your own drivers.

“Maybe by 2023 and 2024, more IndyCar teams will start participating in Indy Lights.”

By using additional resources IndyCar has to offer, CEO of Penske Entertainment, Mark Miles, envisions impressive growth for Indy Lights.

“I don’t know why there are any limits; there are so many things we can do,” Miles told SPEED SPORT. “I don’t know if [the] NASCAR Cup [Series] and Xfinity example is a model for us, but we think Indy Lights has lots of potential. 

“We have already helped with the distribution of those races and their qualifying and practice will all be on Peacock in this country. We have committed to improving the television production. 

“We want it to be part of IndyCar so the drivers on their way up are raised in an IndyCar system. Kyle Novak, the IndyCar Race Director, will be the race director for Indy Lights races. The rest of the team that he manages in race control will do Indy Lights races. It’s not the same personnel, it’s the same approach and the same rulings and the same consistency will be there. That’s helpful in having the drivers develop into IndyCar drivers.

“There are lots we can do to help grow it and make it even more meaningful preparation for drivers to come up the ladder.”

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