Mazda Motorsports to Withdraw From Road to Indy After 2018 Season
The brand will continue its Global MX-5 Cup series as well as its IMSA WeatherTech efforts with Team Joest.
Mazda Motorsports announced on Tuesday that it will withdraw its sponsorship from the Road to Indy program after the 2018 season.
Mazda has been involved with the ladder-style initiative including the USF2000, Pro Mazda, and Indy Lights series since 2010. In doing so, the Japanese brand has provided millions of dollars in scholarship funds for up-and-coming open-wheel drivers while also helping to provide a nationwide platform for developing professionals in the sport.
John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports, gave the following statement regarding the decision:
“On behalf of Mazda, I’d like to thank Andersen Promotions and everyone involved with the Road to Indy for a wonderful nine years, but the time has come for Mazda to focus our resources into other areas of our motorsports footprint. We have truly enjoyed our role in developing young racers into Indy 500 hopefuls, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Andersen Promotions through the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup. The 2018 USF2000, Pro Mazda, and Indy Lights champions will receive Mazda Advancement Scholarships for the 2019 season and the annual $200,000 Mazda Road to Indy Global shootout will also be held in December of this season."
Doonan continued, explaining that the manufacturer will persist in other disciplines of motorsport, including "grassroots club racing initiatives, the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich, the Mazda Road to 24, and Mazda Team Joest.”
Andersen Promotions owner and CEO Dan Andersen responded to the news Tuesday afternoon by saying, "We would like to thank Mazda for nine tremendous years in supporting and headlining the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires."
“They have been a great partner and their scholarships have helped so many drivers achieve their dream of progressing to the Verizon IndyCar Series," Andersen continued. "Mazda has been a key player in establishing and helping to grow our driver development system into the unparalleled program it is today. They remain with us through the end of this season and will once again be awarding each of our series’ champions a scholarship to move up to the next step in 2019 as well as the winner of the USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout in December.
“As their marketing objectives pursue new horizons, we at Andersen Promotions are committed to maintaining the outstanding ladder structure we have in place for 2019 and beyond. We are currently in discussions with several potential companies as we actively pursue a new partner.”
The MRTI group takes part in race weekends throughout the country, accompanying the big-league Verizon IndyCar Series from track to track.
Of the 33 drivers that competed at this year's running of the Indianapolis 500, 25 of them were products of the MRTI ladder.