IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines

1. Teams place deposit for aero kits

2. Power, Conway up for Autosport Award honors

3. Schmidt to be featured in TV program

1. Teams place deposit for aero kits: Verizon IndyCar Series entrants have submitted a 25 percent deposit of the $75,000 package price with their aerodynamic bodywork kit order to respective suppliers Chevrolet and Honda.

Manufacturer track testing of prototype components opened Oct. 6 and continues through Jan. 18, 2015, which is the same date as homologation. Production will ramp up to meet the March 1 deadline for one road and street course/short oval kit to be delivered to each entrant. The speedway aero kit, according to the INDYCAR timeline, will be delivered by April 1. The balance of the package cost is due before delivery.

The initial team on-track test is scheduled for March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and the road/street course package will make its competition debut March 27-29 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Month of May preparations for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24 will mark the debut of the speedway aero kit.

"The manufacturers will give them a good product and I don't think it will take long for (teams) to get their heads around it and have good racing at St. Pete," said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR's president of competition and operations. "It will be an exciting start to the season."

Six ovals, four street circuits and six road courses constitute the 2015 schedule, which begins March 8 in Brasília, Brazil, and concludes Aug. 30 at Sonoma Raceway in California.

The regulated bodywork pieces are mated to the Dallara IR-12 chassis that was introduced for the 2012 season and will provide INDYCAR a platform for performance and efficiency developments. The forward-thinking program is relevant to short- and long-term design and development objectives of the global automotive industry and aligns with research and development in multiple technology sectors.

Chevrolet and Honda also supply the consumer-relevant 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines fueled with E85.

"Aero kits will be big performance gains to the competition," Walker added. "More performance will give us more exciting racing. If you look at the current car, it's been frozen in time since the design was introduced. When you say to aero manufacturers and designers, 'OK, you can make changes here. Go at it,' you're going to get some different shapes and certainly more performance. Everybody will not just take it on but try to maximize it.

"For the fan, there is a lot more to look at and understand. When you open the door a little bit and take some of spec away, you'll see differences on track, which is the fascinating part."

2. Power, Conway up for Autosport Award honors: Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power is among the nominees for International Racing Driver of the Year as part of the annual Autosport Awards.

Voting in the eight categories is open to Autosport subscribers at The awards will be distributed Dec. 7 in London.

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, recorded three victories among eight top-five finishes and four Verizon P1 Awards in the 18 races on the way to earning his first series title. He is nominated alongside Formula One championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg along with F1 drivers Valteri Bottas and Daniel Riciardo and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer.

Mike Conway, who scored two victories for Ed Carpenter Racing this season, is nominated for British Competition Driver of the Year. F1 drivers Jenson Button and Hamilton, World Endurance Championship title contender Anthony Davidson, GP3 titlist Alex Lynn and GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer are the other nominees.

3. Schmidt to be featured in TV program: INDYCAR team co-owner Sam Schmidt will be featured on "Arrow Electronics presents Courage in Sports" at 5 p.m. (ET) Nov. 16 on CBS. Check local listings.

Schmidt, an Indy car driver who suffered injuries in a testing crash in January 2000 that rendered him a quadriplegic, had the opportunity to drive a passenger car once again around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past May. Through the SAM (semi-autonomous motorcar) Project, Schmidt controlled the steering and acceleration of the modified Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray entirely by incremental head movements.

Schmidt, who co-owns teams that compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, is the founder of the Cure Paralysis Now, which funds scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances that could lead toward a cure.

The foundation also raises funds to improve quality of life issues. Its Day at the Races program, in which paralyzed individuals meet Schmidt and get a behind-the-scenes tour at a Verizon IndyCar Series race venue, is among the foundation's longtime outreach initiatives.

A film crew recently visited Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, at his home in Nevada.