Schmidt-Peterson Withdraws From Indy Lights

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Santiago Urrutia won four Indy Lights races for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports in 2016. (Al Steinberg photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports has ceased operations in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series.

SPM began as a Lights-only entity in 2002 and currently holds the longest-running tenure in the series. During its 15-year operation, the Indianapolis-based team became the most successful in Series history, acquiring seven championships, 74 race wins, 82 poles and eight Freedom 100 victories.

The team’s presence can be seen in the forward progress of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system, with nine of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers having competed for SPM at some time in their racing careers.

Team co-owner Sam Schmidt considers this a benchmark of the team’s legacy and cites economics as his decision to withdraw from the series.

“This is probably the most difficult decision I have had to make as a team owner since our founding,” said Schmidt. “Indy Lights has been our cornerstone for 15 years and not being on the grid at St. Pete next March will certainly be disappointing.

“Unfortunately or fortunately, our IndyCar commercial opportunities are expanding greatly, the SAM Project has several new initiatives for 2017 and Conquer Paralysis Now is exploring new programs. Ric (Peterson) and I want to make the IndyCar team great, not just good, which requires time and resources.

“We are hopeful our legacy will continue through the many IndyCar drivers that are now competing full time in the series as well as engineers and mechanics that have graduated as well.”

Santiago Urrutia won four races and finished second in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires standings this season.

Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports fields two cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, including the No. 5 wheeled by Dancing with the Stars contestant James Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe won the pole for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 aboard the Honda-powered SPM entry.