As if the 2020 racing season couldn’t get any stranger.
News originally broken by Steve Wittich of Trackside Online Sunday night was confirmed on Monday as the Indy Lights announced it was going on hiatus for the 2020 season.
While Indy Lights will not be on track this season for the first time since 1986 when it was known as the American Racing Series, the other two rungs to the Road to Indy Ladder, USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000, did confirm that they will both be racing a full schedule this year.
“The effects of the global pandemic on businesses, including racing, have been severe,” Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions said in a release. “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.”
It’s unfortunate that this is happening, but it’s the correct decision. With only six confirmed cars in the field, it could hardly be called a competitive situation. Races would in effect be glorified practice sessions, and while the prize of a lot of money and a ride in next year’s Indy 500 for the series champion is nice, it’s more important to have a season that benefits all drivers, regardless if they were championship contenders or not.
What’s also unfortunate is that this decision sends a lot of drivers and crew members scrambling. Drivers don’t want to lose a season from their careers and crew have bills to pay, so hopefully all involved find a landing spot somewhere this season.
There’s no doubt that Indy Lights is a vital part of the Road to Indy ladder. A majority of the current IndyCar field cut their teeth in Indy Lights, and in the last two years alone the series has graduated three promising drivers to the big cars in Oliver Askew, Pato O’Ward and Rinus Veekay.
Of the drivers who would’ve been racing this season, Kyle Kirkwood is a lock to jump to IndyCar in the future, and Robert Megennis and Rasmus Lindh both have that potential as well.
No doubt Indy Lights will be back in 2021, and if the holdovers return along with the addition of the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 and FR Americas champions, it could end up fielding a pretty stout field.
The Rumble Strip podcast
Have you checked out my podcast yet? In my latest episodes, I have conversations with Conor Daly, Dakota Dickerson and Charlie Kimball. You can hear it on SoundCloud and check it out here on iTunes.
Photo credit: Chris Bucher/IndyCar Media