Florida driver Spencer Pigot progresses from karts to IndyCar via the Mazda Road to Indy after winning Indy Lights championship.
Spencer Pigot is a poster boy for the Mazda Road to Indy. Last year’s Pro Mazda Champion and the 2015 Indy Lights champion will continue his march up the ladder and contest at least three rounds of the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, including the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. The 22-year-old from Orlando, Fla., has had a remarkable journey that has taken him from karting all the way to the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in North America in just seven years.
“The Mazda Road to Indy has been vital for my development as a driver,” said Pigot, who has won no fewer than four scholarship prizes from Mazda – the first driver to do so – to maintain his career’s momentum. “It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be going into the Verizon IndyCar Series without the experience and support I gained from each level. Each car teaches you something new and racing at the same tracks as IndyCar throughout my Mazda Road to Indy career will only help my transition. It’s the place to be for anyone trying to make it to IndyCar.”
Pigot, who began karting at age 9, made the move into car racing in 2009, winning the Skip Barber Shoot-Out Top Scholarship Award and a season of competition in the 2010 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Series Presented by Mazda as an official Mazda Development driver. He claimed the title as a rookie to secure another Mazda scholarship prize and ensure his graduation onto the first step of the Mazda Road to Indy, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, in 2011. After consecutive runner-up finishes in the USF2000 title chase, Pigot capped another two years in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by winning the crown and another scholarship prize in 2014 that enabled him to move on to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2015.
Pigot maintained his winning ways this season, romping to the Indy Lights championship on the heels of a series-high six wins, four poles and 182 laps led from 16 races with Juncos Racing. The achievement earned him a $1 million scholarship prize leading to an initial three-race association with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, comprising the 2016 season opener at St. Petersburg, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indy 500, which both parties are hoping will be extended into a full-season of competition.
“Mazda’s goal when we established the Mazda Road to Indy (MRTI) was to create a clear and funded path for talented racers to get to the top,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “There is truly no system like this in the world. And, while we have had many Mazda drivers in the Indy 500, Spencer is the first who started with us in karts and spent time at every level of the MRTI. We have watched Spencer develop into a champion on the track and an outstanding young man off the track. Spencer is our pick for the 2016 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.”
Pigot is the most successful driver since the formation of the Mazda Road to Indy in 2010 with 24 race wins to his credit in USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. He becomes the 15th driver to graduate from the Mazda Road to Indy into the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2010.
“I am delighted to partner with Bobby Rahal and a terrific young driver for what we believe will be the beginning of a long and successful IndyCar career,” said Dan Andersen, CEO of Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy. “We at Indy Lights, along with our series partners including Mazda and Cooper Tires, are all very proud of our 2015 champion, and the training Spencer has received on all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will serve him well as he competes with the best next season.”
While the scholarship provides for three races, All the parties involved hope that is only the beginning, and are Pigot and RLL Racing are working on finding ways to run more races. While the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is not set, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will have its traditional slot on Memorial Day weekend, on May 29.