Indy Lights has confirmed the championship will return to action in support of the NTT IndyCar Series for the 2021 season after a year in hiatus.
Through a combination of low grid numbers and the Covid-19 pandemic, the final tier on the ‘Road to Indy’ programme was forced to shut down for the 2020 season.
In light of the series’ return, the champion’s scholarship award will increase from $1m to 1.25m, and will be guaranteed entry into at least three IndyCar events, including the Indianapolis 500, as was the case through 2019.
The top three finishers in the standings will also receive an IndyCar test at the end of the season.
The Dallara IL-15 chassis will also be equipped with the halo head protection device when the series returns.
The schedule for the 2021 Indy Lights campaign will be unveiled prior to the IndyCar finale on October 25 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The schedule will see some change but will still include 18 races across 10 events, featuring all three circuit types with road, street courses and ovals, most notably the Freedom 100, which precedes the Indy 500.
Indy Lights has helped oversee the rise of several drivers into the IndyCar ranks such as Paul Tracy, Tony Kannan, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and more recently Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew.
Of the 33 starters in this year’s Indy 500, 23 were graduates from the Indy Lights series, with eight of them having won the championship.
“After careful planning with the IndyCar team, we are pleased to confirm the exciting addition of a season-ending IndyCar test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway soon after the 2021 season,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions.
“We continue to explore additional ways to strengthen the Indy Lights championship. In the interim, we want to spread the word that Indy Lights will be back and it will be stronger than ever.”
“From top to bottom, the entire team recognises the role and commitment Indy Lights has played in bringing new talent to the NTT IndyCar Series,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment.
“We are firmly committed to ensuring its continued success.”