Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Archive for the ‘ IndyCar ’ Category

Dallara IL-15 1a

Dallara’s 2015 Indy Lights machine, the IL-15.

The Indy Lights IL-15 race car was unveiled yesterday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The car, a 2015 Dallara, looks pretty sharp and earned high praise from former Lights and current IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden during today’s Freedom 100 broadcast. “I’m actually really excited and a little bit jealous,” Newgarden said with a smile. “I’m jealous that [Indy Lights drivers] are getting a new car right now because it could be a little bit cooler than the IndyCar.”

The car will be much lighter and quicker than the current offering. What are your thoughts? Do you like the design?

Official Release: State-of-the-Art Dallara IL-15 Sets the Tone for the Future of Indy Lights

Dallara IL-15 7a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

Dallara IL-15 4a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

Dallara IL-15 5a

IL-15 Indy Lights car – 2015 Dallara

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Hinchcliffe to test for Newman-Haas [Updated]

Posted November 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm Indy Lights, IndyCar, Test Comments

James Hinchcliffe

Canadian James Hinchcliffe is scheduled to test an IndyCar with Newman-Haas on Dec. 14-15 at Sebring International Raceway, according to Norris McDonald.

Hopefully this will end as more than just a great opportunity, and the talented 23-year-old will land a full-time ride in IndyCar for 2011.

Hinchcliffe concluded his 2010 Indy Lights season ranked second in the drivers’ championship with three wins and 10 top-fives in 13 starts, driving for Team Moore Racing. In early October, the Toronto native was awarded the prestigious Greg Moore Legacy Award.

[Update] – According to inside sources, this news was prematurely released and details are still being finalized. Stay tuned for an official PR announcement.

[Update II]– It’s confirmed.


Just for fun, I thought I’d post the lap times from today’s pole sitters at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  This gives newcomers a look at how the various junior formula cars associated with the ‘Road to Indy’ development program compare to each other and to a full blown Indy Car.

Pole sitter lap times from St. Petersburg are posted after the jump.

[Continue Reading…]


Bertrand Baguette, 24, who won the 2009 World Series by Renault Championship, has signed with Conquest Racing for a full campaign in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series.

I’m a little surprised to see Baguette abandon the traditional path to F1, but this is a really good signing for Conquest.  Baguette will join teammate and fellow IndyCar rookie Mario Romancini under the Conquest tent in 2010.

Last season, in World Series by Renault competition, Baguette finished the year with 5 wins, 1 pole position and 10 podiums while driving for Draco Racing.


Junior Strous Joins HVM

Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:29 am Indy Lights, IndyCar, Signing Comments

Junior Strous and HVM's Keith Wiggins

It was confirmed last evening that Dutch racer Junior Strous has joined HVM Racing for the 2010 Indy Lights season.  He was originally planning to drive for Team Moore Racing but was released from his contract for unknown reasons.  The speculation was that he had a better offer from someone else and that just might have been the case.

HVM Racing plans to field Junior in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2010 but mentions IndyCar testing and racing opportunities as a possibility in the near future.

Junior is a proven talent,” stated Team Owner Keith Wiggins in a release.  “He’s won races, so we know he has good skills behind the wheel.  We will start him in a (Firestone Indy) Lights car and plan to do some testing with him in the big car at some point this season also.  I have no doubt that with continued development he will be in an IZOD IndyCar Series car in the future,” continued Wiggins.

Junior Strous seems very content with the new opportunity and is looking forward to the possibility of competing in IndyCar.

“I’m now closer to reaching my ultimate goal and that’s racing the big IndyCars,” Strous said in a team release. “If I have a chance to improve my position, I’ll always go for it. The HVM partnership offers me good opportunities both for the short and long term in my racing career.  HVM is the place to be to achieve my goals.”

HVM Racing has teamed up with Team Stargate Worlds to field former Atlantic Championship standout Simona de Silvestro in the 2010 IndyCar series.  It’s likely that we will see Strous join her in North America’s top-tier open wheel series later this season.


Sebastian Saavedra Signs with Bryan Herta

Posted February 23, 2010 at 11:04 am Indy Lights, IndyCar, Signing Comments

Sebastian Saavedra Joins BHA
(photo: IndyCar.com/Ron McQueeney)

Colombian Sebastian Saavedra has signed with Bryan Herta Autosport for the 2010 Indy Lights season. The duo will also make the jump to the IndyCar series for the 2010 Indy 500.

Saavedra, 19, drove for AFS/AGR (now known as AFS/Andretti Autosport) last season in Firestone Indy Lights competition.  He finished third in the championship with 2 wins, 7 podiums and 11 top-tens.

He was incredibly fast last season and had the potential to win the overall championship but he seemed to be overly aggressive in certain situations… which, in turn, led to some rookie mistakes.  I expect we will see a much more mature driver behind-the-wheel in 2010. He earned the 2009 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Award at the championship banquet last fall.

Saavedra will join British driver Stefan Wilson under the Bryan Herta Autosport tent.


Lola Keeps Indy Lights in Mind

Posted February 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm Indy Lights, IndyCar Comments

With the various concept cars being released over the last few weeks for the 2012 IndyCar Series, only one manufacturer has introduced an option of commonality between IndyCar and Indy Lights.  Lola introduced their concept today which features an update pack for Indy Lights cars that will allow IndyCar teams to run both series more cost effectively.

The Lola chassis for IndyCar will achieve cohesion by being eligible for the Firestone Indy Lights Championship. This will in essence mean that Indy Lights teams will be able to graduate more cost effectively to the IZOD Indycar Series and teams will find it more commercially attractive to enter cars in each series and to entice new entries in to competition.

In addition, the ease of changing the car specifications from one series to the other will ensure high quality and full entries for the Indy 500.

Without getting into design differences this is a pretty solid idea for managing the cost of running both the Firestone Indy Lights and the IZOD IndyCar series.  Not to mention the fact that it might help graduate more Lights’ drivers to IndyCar.

Lola Indy Lights/IndyCar Concept


Slight Setbacks for Simona

Posted January 15, 2010 at 11:16 am IndyCar, open wheel racing news Comments

Atlantic Championship standout Simona De Silvestro is hoping to make the move to the prestigious IndyCar series in 2010.  She completed her first IndyCar test with HVM Racing in December and by all reports she did quite well in her inaugural outing. Regardless of her performance and success behind the wheel it would appear, at least for the time being, that her entry into the IndyCar series will be delayed.

This morning Curt Cavin, of the IndyStar, reported:

Atlantics product Simona de Silvestro, who recently tested with HVM Racing, has been told she must compete in some Firestone Indy Lights races and test an IndyCar on an oval track before she is allowed to drive such a car on an oval. She has no oval-track experience.

I don’t think anyone expected her to jump into IndyCar oval competition without extensive testing but adding a requirement to run a few Indy Lights races seems a bit much.  I can think of a few drivers who were allowed to make the jump to IndyCar without any time in Lights or at least a significant amount of single-seater experience.  Simona has certainly proved herself behind the wheel of a racecar and I think it would be a shame if she were denied entry into the 2010 IndyCar series (should the funding fall into place).  That said, I’m all for proper development and safety.  If the IRL officials give her an appropriate oval evaluation— in an IndyCar— and feel that she’s not ready, then perhaps she should be forced to run a few Indy Lights races.  Until that evaluation is done properly, I think it’s a bit soon to require her to run Lights.

What do you think?


In an effort to help bridge the gap between junior formula racing and the IndyCar series, the IRL has created a new Driver Development Ladder entitled “Road to Indy”.

The new ladder system is designed to help drivers progress from the USF2000 National Championship to Star Mazda and then to Indy Lights prior to making the final step to the IRL IndyCar Series.  Both the USF2000 National Championship and the Star Mazda Championship include road courses and ovals—similar to the IndyCar Series—which will help drivers hone their skills as they progress up through the ranks.

This is great news for young drivers who are looking to develop their racecraft for a future career in the IRL.  Here is the official Road To Indy Release.  I’m hopeful that the new program will bring in more attention and media coverage for today’s up-and-coming junior formula stars… which, in theory, should create more sponsorship opportunities.


Simona de Silvestro to test IndyCar with HVM

Posted December 7, 2009 at 11:04 pm IndyCar, Test Comments

Simona de Silvestro (photo--Phil Sedgwick)

Simona de Silvestro (photo--Phil Sedgwick)

After a few weeks of rumors, it was confirmed this evening that Simona de Silvestro will indeed test a Indy Car this week at Sebring International Raceway with HVM Racing–in collaboration with Team Stargate Worlds.

Simona, 21, drove in the Atlantic Championship this season with Team Stargate Worlds and in the process became the winningest female in U.S. open-wheel history.  She ended her 2009 campaign with 4 wins, 9 podiums, and 4 pole positions.

At this point, nothing is set-in-stone but it’s looking increasing likely that a joint effort between HVM and Team Stargate Worlds will be formed to field the Swiss driver in the 2010 IndyCar series.

It would be great to see Simona make the jump to IndyCar in 2010.

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