The Road to Indy Ladder System not only has three different rings but also different cars and engines for each and every rung. The ladder system is a developmental series that is meant to award winning racers from each level with scholarships to advance and eventually make the IndyCar Series and one day, the famed Indianapolis 500.
Each level is a different rung with different levels of skills amongst all the drivers. This means that each car and engine is different. Drivers of different skill level have to have different cars as they progress and develop, meaning a lot of thought and a lot of time and craftmanship is put into every car. In each rung, the drivers drive the same car so they are on the same level playing field.
The U.S. F2000 Championship is the first of the rungs and we will examine that car first.
U.S. F2000 Championship Car & Engine Specs
In 2017, the Tatuus USF-17 and will be used up until 2024. Here is what the U.S. F2000 says about their car:
“It is a full carbon composite and aluminum honeycomb monocoque chassis meeting current FIA F4 safety standards and utilizes the Mazda MZR 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine with additional safety features to meet the specific needs of racing in the United States. These features include full Zylon side intrusion panels and reinforced bulkheads to strengthen the chassis for racing on oval circuits. The USF-17 also features other upgrades such as a six-speed paddle shift gearbox, four-way adjustable dampers, specific design aluminum Motegi Racing wheels, Cosworth data system, LCD steering wheel and ECU, four piston caliper PFC brakes and IndyCar-specific quick jack and roll hoop attachments.”
The engine, the USF-17, is produced by Mazda. It produces 175 HP and maximum torque of 160 Ft. Lbs., utilizing a fly-by-wire throttle system and Cosworth SQ6 engine management system. The tires used are 13-inch slick and rain tires co-branded COOPER/USF2000 as manufactured by Cooper Tires.
Before the Tatuus, the U.S. F2000 used the Van Diemen DP08.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Car & Engine Specs
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship is the second rung of the Road to Indy ladder system. When racers get to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, they are upgraded to the Tatuus PM-18. It debuted to rave reviews in 2018 and will be used until at least 2024. It uses the base of the USF-17 as the base car to help control operational costs. full carbon composite and aluminum honeycomb monocoque manufactured by Tatuus Racing. Here is what the Indy Pro 2000 Championship says about the Tatuus PM-18 and how it is an upgrade from the USF-17:
“Enhancements over the USF-17 include more sophisticated aerodynamics with an adjustable dual-element rear wing and single-plane carbon fiber front wing with adjustable flaps and Indy Pro 2000-specific front and rear endplates; larger Motegi Racing forged Technomesh monoblock alloy wheels with Cooper tires (13″x10″ fronts and 13″x12″ rears); and a 275 HP 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-PM18A motor developed by Elite Engines, utilizing a fly-by-wire throttle system and Cosworth SQ6 engine management system. The power is delivered via a Sadev SL82 six-speed sequential transmission and limited-slip differential.”
The tires used are Slick/rain tires co-branded COOPER/ LINDYPRO2000 as manufactured by Cooper Tires. The original cars of this series, which at one point was the Star Mazda Series, was powered by 260 horsepower by Mazda Renesis rotary engines. The most unique part of the car is the bodywork which is the Unique Indy Pro 2000 engine cover, carbon composite diffuser, adjustable dual element rear wing and single plane carbon fiber front wing with adjustable flaps and Indy Pro 2000-specific front and rear endplates. All bodywork carbon fiber construction.
The Indy Lights Series Car & Engine Specs
The Indy Lights Series is the third rung of the Road to Indy Ladder System. This is where the most experienced and developed drivers are racing in hopes that they can make the IndyCar series and the Indianapolis 500. This means that these drivers are driving the most advanced cars and most powerful.
The the Dallara IL-15 is the chassis employed by the series, but engines are now provided by AER, Advanced Engines Research. The car used is the Mazda-AER P63 2.0 L (122 cu in) DOHC inline-4 which was introduced in the 2015 and is still used today, It is a 6-speed sequential semi-automatic gearbox. It weighs 1400 pounds excluding the driver and the fuel and has an undisclosed wheelbase.
The AER engine is 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 powerplant producing 450 HP with 50 HP push-to-pass for high speed overtaking and capable of running an entire season without a rebuild. They use Cooper tires as the event is promoted by Cooper Tires.
This is what the IndyLights says about their car:
“State-of-the-art, single-seat, open-wheel, Indy car-style chassis manufactured by Dallara Automobili, complete with paddle shifters, push-to-pass and safety components meeting or exceeding FIA specifications with INDYCAR standards (headrests, seats, secondary pedal bulkhead, zylon panels).”
Once drivers make the IndyCar series they all drive the same chassis with two engine system. This is something that is much different than the F1 Series.
The carbon fiber Dallara DW12 chassis is used by the entire field. The cars run 2.2-litre turbocharged V6 engines from Honda and Chevrolet, producing 550-700bhp depending on the turbo boost, which varies from event to event. The engines are electronic direct fuel injected and rev to 12,000rpm, with only four being allowed for full-season entrants per year.