Firestone® Indy Lights

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The Fast Track to Indy
Since its inception in 2002, the Firestone Indy Lights has been the steppingstone for drivers to make at least one start in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500.

What They Said About Firestone Indy Lights
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing IZOD IndyCar Series entry, 2000 Dayton Indy Lights champion: “The car combination in Indy Lights was different in my day, but anything you drive that’s similar to an Indy car in road, street and oval configurations is going to help. It was a key transition for me and definitely a steppingstone. You need something like that for these (IndyCar Series) team owners to look at when evaluating talent. Without Indy Lights, I never would have made it to the IndyCar Series.”


Tony Kanaan, driver of the #2 de Ferran Dragon Racing IndyCar Series entry, 1997 Firestone Indy Lights champion: “I think it’s a great idea to bring the name Indy Lights back to racing. I won my first title in America racing in the Indy Lights series, and because of that, I had the opportunity to move on to the next level. I am sure that having a strong name like Firestone Indy Lights on an up-and-coming driver’s resume is going to help them in their career as well.”

Oriol Servia, 1999 Dayton Indy Lights champion: “I keep saying over and over how much participating in the Indy Lights series meant for me. Obviously, not just for winning the championship (1999), but for how much I learned. It was a great car, a great championship, a great development series for Indy cars. I came to the States from Europe in 1998, and I didn’t know what to expect.  I loved the atmosphere, and it is a great place for foreign drivers to start understanding how the U.S. motor racing world works. I liked it so much that I haven’t left! That says a lot about how much I liked Indy Lights. Being a champion was great – you look at the other guys who were champions, and I’m proud to be a part of that group.”

FIRESTONE AND INDY LIGHTS
Pairing open-wheel racing’s past and present to help mold the sport’s future, the Indy Racing League and Firestone Racing brought back a familiar name to the IndyCar Series’ official developmental series in 2008 – Firestone Indy Lights.

The name harkens back to the 11 seasons that the Firestone and Dayton brands served as title sponsor and exclusive tire supplier to one of the most successful driver development series in American history (1991-2001). Many of today’s top open-wheel competitors cut their racing teeth on its diverse array of tracks.

Current IndyCar Series champions Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon are past Indy Lights champions, as are current team owners Eric Bachelart and Robbie Buhl. In addition, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon used Indy Lights as a seasoning steppingstone on their way to capturing Indy 500 victory glory.

When the CART-sanctioned Indy Lights series disbanded after 2001, Firestone continued its strong support of young open-wheel talent by becoming the Official Tire for the INDYCAR’s Firestone Indy Lights that debuted in 2002. Aspiring drivers the likes of A.J. Foyt IV, Ed Carpenter, Jay Howard, Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh, Raphael Matos, J.R. Hildebrand and Ana Beatriz have parlayed that experience into IZOD IndyCar Series rides.

“Our company has a long history of supporting the development of talent in the open-wheel ranks,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Motorsports, Firestone Racing. “With the unification of open-wheel racing, we thought it the perfect time to merge the excitement of the Indy Racing League’s growing support series with the rich history of Firestone Indy Lights.”

THE FIRESTONE FIREHAWK CUP
The Firestone Firehawk Cup is a Bruce Fox, Inc., design made of fine silver, nickel silver, carbon fiber and proprietary resin. Standing 38½ inches tall and weighing 68 pounds, it was created in 2008 as part of Firestone’s ongoing commitment to support the Indy Racing League’s driver development series.

“Firestone Indy Lights has been a great proving ground for talented young drivers,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing. “Just look at the names that have honed their skills there before moving onto the IndyCar Series. Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Oriol Servia, Townsend Bell, A.J. Foyt IV, Alex Lloyd – all are past Firestone Indy Lights champions who drove in the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ the Indianapolis 500 in 2008. This just shows that Firestone Indy Lights is the right path to the IndyCar Series.”

To underscore the steeped tradition of the series, the names of all Firestone Indy Lights champions dating to 1991 are inscribed on the new Firehawk Cup. That includes the years of Firestone and Dayton Indy Lights competition under the former Championship Auto Racing Teams umbrella from 1991-2001 and the Indy Racing League Firestone Indy Lights champions from 2002-07.

Firestone Indy Lights champions

1991 – Eric Bachelart
1992 – Robbie Buhl
1993 – Bryan Herta
1994 – Steve Robertson
1995 – Greg Moore
1996 – David Empringham
1997 – Tony Kanaan
1998 – Cristiano da Matta
1999 – Oriol Servia
2000 – Scott Dixon
2001 – Townsend Bell
2002 – A.J. Foyt IV
2003 – Mark Taylor
2004 – Thiago Medeiros
2005 – Wade Cunningham
2006 – Jay Howard
2007 – Alex Lloyd
2008 – Raphael Matos
2009 – JR Hildebrand

2010- J.K. Vernay

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