The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today announced a departure from tradition with a 2012 schedule featuring 18 races on 10 weekends, most with the IZOD IndyCar Series. Details of a new Mazda Road to Indy television package will be announced when available.
On-track action begins with an official Star Mazda Championship series test at Barber Motorsports Park, March 19-20. This will be the first official series test. From the Barber test, teams will head directly for IndyCar’s high-profile season-opener, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 24-25, and then return immediately to race at Barber Motorsports Park on the IndyCar weekend, March 31-April 1.
The drivers’ oval-track education continues on Memorial Day weekend as the Star Mazda Championship heads for the prestigious “Night Before the 500” held at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis on Saturday night, May 26, before the 101st running of the Indy 500. The winner of the race will be introduced to the crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the opening ceremonies on Sunday morning. Other major activities during this event include an autograph session at the Speedway’s famed Gasoline Alley and the annual Indy Summit where Mazda Road to Indy drivers meet with top IndyCar teams, drivers and series officials.
The next event is yet to be announced but will take place June 22-24. Following that is a four-weekend run of street circuits, beginning with three in a row in Canada including IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Toronto, July 7-8, followed by the Grand Prix of Edmonton, July 21-22. This will be the series’ first visit to the airport circuit in Alberta. The third race in Canada is the 43rd running of the GP3R in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, August 3-5, where Star Mazda and Indy Lights will share top billing.
Back in the U.S., the fourth street circuit is the hugely popular Grand Prix of Baltimore, September 1-2. Immediately following Baltimore, teams will head for the West Coast to compete in the only event not associated with IndyCar, the Grand-Am weekend at Mazda Raceway in Northern California, September 8-9. The final Star Mazda Championship race of the 2012 season is another event yet to be announced.
Rising racing stars from around the world will hone their skills at five street circuits, two road courses, one oval and two events yet to be announced; all street circuit and road course weekends will be ‘double headers featuring two races, with the fastest lap for each car in Race 1 determining the starting grid for Race 2. Oval track weekends will be single races.
In addition to providing more racing with no increase in budget or travel, the new double-header format is designed to be attractive to the businessmen/racers who compete in the Star Mazda Expert Series for drivers 30 and older. Ten races during the season will count toward the Expert Series Championship, allowing Expert competitors to run a complete season in five weekends.
2012 Star Mazda Championship Schedule
March 19-20 – Barber Spring Training – Road Course (Star Mazda)
March 24-25 – Grand Prix of St. Petersburg * – Street Circuit (IndyCar)
March 31-April 1 – Barber Motorsports Park * – Road Course (IndyCar)
May 25-26 – Night Before the 500 – Oval (USAC)
June 22-24 – TBA
July 7-8 – Grand Prix of Toronto * – Street Circuit (IndyCar)
July 21-22 – Grand Prix of Edmonton * – Street Circuit (IndyCar)
August 3-5 – GP3R Trois-Rivières * – Street Circuit (Indy Lights)
September 1-2 – Grand Prix of Baltimore * – Street Circuit (IndyCar)
September 8-9 – Mazda Raceway * – Road Course (Grand-Am)
October TBA – TBA
* Two Star Mazda Championship races per weekend
words & pix: Mazda