INDIANAPOLIS – The new chassis for the middle rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, debuted Thursday at the PRI Trade Show.
The brand-new Tatuus PM-18 prototype car was unveiled by Dan Andersen, owner/CEO of Andersen Promotions, John Doonan, director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, and Chris Pantani, director of Event Marketing and Motorsports for Cooper Tires.
The PM-18 represents the completion of an entire overhaul of all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy. It follows the introduction of the Dallara IL-15 to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Tatuus USF-17 to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The PM-18 will replace the Elan Pro Mazda chassis which was introduced in 2004.
The PM-18 shares the same carbon and aluminum honeycomb monocoque chassis as the USF-17, which made its debut during the recent Mazda Road to Indy Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit and will form the basis of the USF2000 series beginning next season.
The car meets all current FIA safety standards, including side-impact panels, front and rear impact structures, HANS-compliant IndyCar head restraint, front and rear wheel tethers, upgraded uprights and front bulkhead structure for USA-specific oval racing. The initial order of 35 USF-17 cars has sold out.
“We are very excited to unveil the next generation Pro Mazda chassis,” said Andersen. “Scot Elkins [Project Manager and Race Director Pro Mazda and USF2000] and Tatuus have done a great job in augmenting the USF-17 base car to provide everything drivers on the second step of the ladder need to continue their career development. We currently plan to begin prototype testing in March of next year, with the first shipment of cars delivered to teams in June to allow for a summer test program. With the success of the USF-17, I can’t wait to see this car on track.”
The PM-18 will be the series’ standard for at least the next five years.
“We talk frequently about the global growth of the Mazda Road to Indy program, and having top-line, modern race cars on each step of the MRTI ladder increases the likelihood of seeing the finest young drivers in the world at each step,” said Doonan. “We also talk about providing value for our teams and drivers, and the PM-18 is a wonderful example of an affordable race car that is safe and fast. We’ve already seen the huge interest in the new USF2000 car for next year, and we expect much the same for the Pro Mazda series in 2018.”