Friday, May 3, 2024

America’s preferred Open wheel Racing ladder system

Even if it’s not called the Road to Indy anymore, Thanks Roger!


Yeah, like many stories here upon thoust mythical Isle ‘O Nofendersville, the genesis of this post began Wayback’ some five years ago, following the conclusion of the inaugural 2018 FR Americas Championship…


As it used to be much simpler when it was still the Road to Indy, with the entire Junior Open Wheel Racing ladder system underneath “One” umbrella. But that All changed when IndyCar bought Indy Lights from Anderson Promotions at the end of 2021. With the three rebranded series under USAC sanctioning becoming the USF Pro Championships.


Longtime rubber supplier Cooper Tires has been replaced by Continental Tires beginning this season. And with their aid, the three scholarship advancement prizes have been increased for 2024.


USF Juniors now pays out $263,700 to the champion. With the U.S F2000 National Championship victor receiving $458,400. And the USF Pro 2000 series winner nests a “cool” $681,500!


USF Juniors

This series was created as a direct competitor to the SCCA Pro Racing’s United States Formula 4 Championship, presumably to fill the USF Pro Championships “Hole” between Karting and it’s then entry single seater U.S. F2000 National Championship series. And now serves as the entry level of this single seater racing ladder.


The schedule consists of six round beginning at Nola Motorsports Park in New Orleans. (April 5-7) Along with being part of the IndyCar support series at Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Portland, which serves as it’s season finale. Plus taking part in the VIR Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway.


The series is open to 14yr old teenagers and up and utilizes the Tatuus JR-23 chassis, which can be upgraded for continued usage in both of it’s “parent” feeder series.


The series inaugural champion was Mac Clark, who’s currently contesting His rookie season with DEForce Racing in the USF Pro 2000 championship.


While last year’s champion was Brazilian teenager Nicolas Giaffone, who indeed is the son of former Indy Racing League (IRL) driver Felipe Giaffone. As Felipe is best known for driving for A.J. foyt enterprises in the Indianapolis 500.


With His $260,000 (approx.) scholarship prize, Nicolas has graduated to the next rung of this ladder system, and will contest the U.S. F2000 National Championship, continuing with DEForce Racing this season.


U.S. F2000 National championship

The series race at eight venues, primarily as part of the IndyCar “Junior” Open Wheel Racing support series, beginning the season at St Pete, florida from March 8-10.


Their second event was the triple header at Nola Motorsports Park at the beginning of April. Before a Double Header at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s )IMS) permanent road course at the beginning of May.


There’s also a “One-off” event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana. With the Freedom 75 precluding this year’s Indianapolis 500. Followed by stops at Road America, Mid-Ohio, Toronto and Portland as it’s season finale.


The series utilizes the current Tatuus USF-22 racecar, powered by the former Mazda MZR 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine built by elite Engines. Which is run by Steve Knapp, a former IRL racing driver, who was the 1998 Indianapolis 500 rookie Of the Year. (ROY)


Reigning series champion Simon Sikes took His $450,000 (approx.) scholarship prize and advanced to the USF Pro 2000 Championship with Pabst Racing, whom He won His USF2000 title with.


USF Pro 2000 championship

This is the final rung upon the USF Pro Championships ladder system ascending to Indy NXT, the final step prior to IndyCar.

As the series has increased this year’s winner’s scholarship advancement prize to $681,500, which Ain’t too Shabby! Especially when you consider the miserly Penske Entertainment Indy NXT award of $850,000. For which reigning Pro 2000 driver Myles Roe has graduated to this season…


Wisely, the series utilizes a Tatuus single seater racecar for All three series, which reportedly are “interchangeable”, saving teams operating costs. With the USF Pro Championship series racing the Tatuus IP-22 powered by the same Elite Mazda sourced MZR 2.0-litre inline four cylinder lump’ used in all three series.


Top speeds vary, with the entry USF Juniors Tatuus JR-23 racer going 135mph. While the JSF-22 goes 145mph, and the IP-22 tops out at 165+ mph.


This season’s schedule mirrors the U.S. F2000 National Championship’s eight events, beginning at St Pete and ending at Portland. Although it’s weekend’s rounds vary slightly over the course of it’s 18-race calendar. With the season finale at Portland being just a single race, which could make for an interesting title showdown.


At the moment, prior to the Indianapolis Road Course triple header May 9-11, Nikita Johnson handedly leads the championship with 141-points, having scored three wins, a second and fourth place finish at St Pete and Nola Motorsports Park.