The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Firestone Indy Lights competition the following year. Graduates of Star Mazda include IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Raphael Matos and Graham Rahal, and rising stars Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier amongst many others.
Pro Mazda features a open-wheel, single-seat, open-cockpit cars with front and rear wings. The carbon fiber chassis, introduced in 2004, is built to FIA standards. A 1.3 liter Mazda "Renesis" rotary engine serves as the power plant and produces 260 horsepower at 8600 RPM, and is capable of speeds up to 160 mph. Pro Mazda utilizes a Hewland 6-speed sequential gearbox with electronic "no lift" shift.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a revival of the highly regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today?s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy - a clearly defined path to reach the top echelons of the sport. In addition to providing a vital training ground for rising stars, the series champion will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship, the next step on the ladder system. The series is also part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000.
USF2000 features open-wheel, single-seat, open-cockpit cars with front and rear wings and a Hewland five-speed sequential gearbox. As a cost constraint, the rules package requires a one-make chassis. Only Van Diemen Elan cars manufactured from 2001 on are eligible to compete. This allows teams to amortize their purchase over multiple years. The cars are low-budget, easy to work on mechanically and offer multiple tuning adjustments with cornering speeds matching the next level car (Pro Mazda).
The cars are powered by the Mazda MZR 2-liter powerplant ? a four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected engine generating approximately 170 horsepower and capable of powering cars to speeds of 150 mph. All Mazda MZR engines are prepared and sealed by Elite Engines of West Bend, Wis.