Organisers of the Indy Lights series have today confirmed that the 2020 season has sadly been cancelled due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation will mark the first time that Indy Lights has not been held since 1986. Economic repercussions of the pandemic, as well as difficulties bought on by schedule changes for the NTT IndyCar Series – where Indy Lights events run as support races – have led to the season being cancelled. The championship aims to return in 2021.
News of the 2020 Indy Lights cancellation emerged last night before officially being confirmed today by series organisers. Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the company behind the Indy Lights championship, confirmed the news today, citing both economic and scheduling issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the championship’s cancellation for this year.
“The effects of the global pandemic on businesses, including racing, have been severe,” said Andersen, “The changes to our overall calendar of races as well as each event weekend’s scheduling and the ability for some of our drivers to compete has impacted the Indy Lights series far more harshly than our other two championships. With less of a cushion to begin with, it became increasingly apparent that the 2020 season was in jeopardy and the best plan was to take a pause, reconstitute for 2021, and do our best to enhance the Indy Lights championship for next season.
“After discussions with INDYCAR and understanding of their firm commitment to Indy Lights going forward, we, together, decided to suspend the 2020 Indy Lights season. We recognize that this will cause some hardships, but we hope all participants will realize the necessity of this decision and we look ahead to 2021 with a promise of better things to come.”
The Indy Lights series is the championship that is the direct feeder series into the NTT IndyCar Series. The series is a part of the Road to Indy – a ladder of championships that lead from the U.S. F2000 Championship, to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, to Indy Lights and then, finally, to the NTT IndyCar Series.
Indy Lights is perhaps the most important step on the Road to Indy of all for those who wish to get to the top of the ladder and race in the NTT IndyCar Series. In the last ten years, drivers such as Josef Newgarden, Patricio O’Ward, Oliver Askew and more have won the Indy Lights championship and gone on to race in the IndyCar Series.
However, it would also be fair to say that the Indy Lights series has been on a decline in the last few years, with full-time entries dropping. Last year, just eight drivers competed in the championship full-time, with only a further five drivers also competing in one round or more. Entries were even lower in 2018, with just twelve overall entrants and only seven full-time.
Nevertheless, the Indy Lights series has proved vital to many drivers with aspirations of competing in the NTT IndyCar Series. The championship, with help from title sponsors Cooper Tires, provides a scholarship for the champion to race in the NTT IndyCar Series.
”The Road to Indy is extremely important to INDYCAR,” said Jay Frye, President of INDYCAR. “This was a difficult decision, knowing the impact it would have on the competitors and how disappointing it would be for the fans. However, it became clear, that we needed to focus our collective efforts on preparing for a strong 2021 Indy Lights season.”
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will get underway this Saturday, June 6, with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.