Mazda Road to Indy teams will get a jump start on 2012 when INDYCAR hosts a two-day test open to USF2000 National Championship, Star Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy Lights teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course on Oct. 28-29.
The Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test is dedicated to the memory of Chris Griffis, the team manager of Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights team, who died unexpectedly on Sept. 12.
"Chris was pivotal in bringing so many young drivers to Firestone Indy Lights and cultivating talent from both Star Mazda and USF2000 levels," said Tony George Jr., manager of business development for Firestone Indy Lights and a key figure in starting the Mazda Road to Indy. "For 10 years, Chris used off-season testing to court and promote young driving talent. This test is designed to give everyone an opportunity to attract and develop drivers in the way Chris pioneered it. "
Testing will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) both days with each series receiving a 60-minute session in the morning and a 75-minute session in the afternoon.
"This test is a fantastic opportunity to showcase what the Mazda Road to Indy has to offer to prospective drivers and teams," George said. "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the perfect location for all three series to start preparations for the 2012 season."
The Mazda Road to Indy was created to provide career-minded drivers a path from karting to the top level of Indy car racing. As the title partner of the Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda provides scholarships to the champions of the three series in INDYCAR's development ladder system to graduate to the next level.
In 2012, Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda champion Petri Suvanto will receive a scholarship to compete in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Star Mazda champion Tristan Vautier will receive a scholarship to compete in Firestone Indy Lights, while Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden will receive a scholarship to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is such a magical place," said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, for Mazda North American Operations. "We're thrilled that the Mazda Road to Indy, and especially the Star Mazda and USF2000 racers, will have an opportunity to test on the track made famous by their heroes."
INDYCAR and Mazda's strong support of the ladder series extends beyond the racetrack with an expansion of the highly successful Mazda Road to Indy Summit program this year, which offered media, social media and business/sponsorship training amongst other topics as well as networking and promotional opportunities to its drivers. In addition, the first Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic was held in May.