The newly reformed USF2000 series (sanctioned by the IRL) has released their 2010 schedule and it has a few interesting tidbits on it that we should talk about. First, here is the schedule.
3/27 – 3/28 St. Petersburg
5/29 O’riely Raceway Park
6/26-6/27 New Jersey Motorsport Park
7/31 Autobahn Country Club, Joliet, IL
8/21-8/22 Road America
9/30-10/1 Road Atlanta
Note that St. Petersburg, New Jersey Motorsport Park, and Autobahn Country Club will be double events.
St. Petersburg and Iowa will be held on the same weekend as the IndyCar series events. Road America and Road Atlanta will be held on the same weekend as the ALMS races. Their schedule will also coincide the Atlantics series at New Jersey, Autobahn & Road Atlanta. But the most interesting coincidence is that USF2000’s schedule coincides with the Star Mazda series schedule for all of their events.
Signs Point to Mazda
There have been some rumors going around for some time that Mazda was interested in getting involved with the IRL. Some of those rumors have Mazda providing the engine for the Indy Lights series. Regardless of the rumors, it looks like the Star Mazda series may be providing some logistical support to the new USF2000 series, since all of their races coincide.
The USF2000 press release goes on to say that “The series is also excited about an important announcement that is scheduled to be made at a press conference at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show in Orlando, Fla.” Just making some conjecture here, but I would imagine that this would be an engine announcement for the series. And the first engine on the tip of my tongue is none other than Mazda. We will let you know for certain on December 10th.
Mazda is snuggling up to the IRL. This may birth another rung in the feeder ladder with the Star Mazda series. It may even give us a new engine manufacturer for the Lights series. Long term, this may turn into something beautiful.
USF2000’s schedule has two ovals on it, ORP and Iowa. This is as expected, since their initial press release about the series indicated they would be running ovals and their place as a junior rung of the developing IndyCar ladder under IRL sanction seems to dictate this as a requirement.
Star Mazda will also be competing on both of these ovals. This is nothing new, since that series has flirted with ovals in the past. Last year they ran Milwaukee on the same weekend as Nascar Nationwide and Iowa on the ARCA weekend, but this year they will be running those events on IndyCar weekends which seems to further strengthen the argument that Mazda is aligning itself with the IRL.
Lets talk about ORP! Both Star Mazda and USF2000 will be running in the traditional “Night Before the 500” show at Indianapolis
O’riely Raceway Park. This event is always headlined by the USAC Midgets, which always put on a fantastic show. Let me emphasize that, Midgets at ORP is one of the best races you will see all year. Throw in Star Mazda and USF2000 and this Open Paddock staffer is guaranteed to be in attendance.
Ovals in the feeder categories is very good for the future of the sport.