Good news from the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Champiomnship Powered by Mazda! The National Class will be opened up to the very popular SCCA Formula Enterprise chassis. The FE class was introduced in the SCCA in 2008 as a way to create a cost-effective entry-point for drivers and teams interested in competing in either open-wheel or prototype sports car competition. The Formula Enterprise uses a 2.3L I4 Mazda engine similar in output to the MRZ 2.0L used for the USF2000 Van Diemen chassis for the Championship Class. Unlike the other chassis available for use in the National Class, the FE chassis is a spec design since the impetus for the series is to allow ease of entry and to focus on driver skill.
There are a few drivers already in the Mazda Road to Indy program that have run the Formula Enterprise category including Team E Racing’s Rusty Mitchell. You can hear Rusty talk about his experience in FE in our Inside The Helmet interview from May of this year.
The prospects for the USF2000 grid were already looking strong at the end of the season. The final race at Baltimore boasted a series record 19 entries, and 2012 had already looked to be even stronger. Now with the inclusion of the FE cars in the National Class, we could routinely see car counts in the twenties! The bodes well not only for the USF2000 National Championship, but for all Star Mazda and Indy Lights as well. Many of these young drivers are going to be seeking to move up through the system and into the IZOD IndyCar Series, so I think we will see these higher car counts percolate upward over the coming seasons.
Official Release from USF2000
PALMETTO, Fla. – The Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda will expand its National Class division in 2012 to accommodate SCCA Enterprises’ Formula Enterprises (FE) entries. A new rules and prize package will provide an opportunity for FE drivers to hone their skills and progress to the Championship Class of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series.
“We are very pleased to welcome FE drivers and teams to our National Class field,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “When I was first approached by Erik [Skirmants, President and CEO of SCCA Enterprises], his idea to include FE as part of our series made immediate sense. There are numerous similarities between our cars – including the Mazda powerplant and Van Diemen chassis – and our National Class already conforms to SCCA GCR regulations.
“Our partners at Mazda and Cooper Tires were equally supportive and enthused about the addition of FE competitors, and we will be working on revisions to our current rules and technical regulations to ensure parity with the current National Class cars. Hopefully, this will open the door to more drivers to continue to develop their craft in a cost-effective program that not only provides an opportunity to advance to our Championship Class but is part of the fantastic Mazda Road to Indy platform.”
The top driver in the USF2000 National Class will receive a scholarship package to advance to the Championship Class in 2013. As the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system sanctioned by INDYCAR, the USF2000 Championship Class winner earns a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Star Mazda competition.
“After contacting our customers, as well as potential customers, I was able to determine the type of series that would encourage the greatest participation and enthusiasm,” stated Skirmants, whose Colorado-based organization sells and distributes the Formula Enterprises race cars in North America. “The inclusion in a formal ladder system, as well as having the best possible pro venues, rang out as the critical elements. This allowed for only one conclusion – the Formula Enterprises cars needed to be included in the USF2000 National Championship. With their schedule, the Mazda Road to Indy program and their impeccable reputation, I was thankful that there was a receptive audience willing to welcome our racers.
“We are extremely pleased and proud that our Formula Enterprises cars will now be part of the USF2000 National Championship, and hope that having the opportunity for our teams and competitors to join the championship in 2012 is a great complement to their SCCA Club Racing opportunities.”
All FE entrants will be eligible to participate in the USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship – a six-race mini-series offering competitors a jumpstart on their 2012 campaigns – with rounds at Sebring International Raceway on February 6-7 and Palm Beach International Raceway on February 11-12.
The National Class race schedule will be comprised of road course and street circuit venues with the doubleheader opening rounds of the 2012 Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda season taking place at the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 14-17. The series full schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
Drivers and teams interested in the 2012 USF2000 championships are invited to contact Series Manager Michelle Kish at 941-723-3900 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.