RACER has learned a significant change is coming for the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2014, with Cooper Tires agreeing to a multi-year deal to take over tire supply for IndyCar's top training category. A title sponsorship element by Cooper could also be included in the new agreement.
Firestone, which has served as the sole supplier to both the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, was reportedly out-bid by Cooper Tires, but will continue its IndyCar association without interruption.
The change in tire supplier for Indy Lights marks the latest round of positive news for the struggling series. IndyCar's decision to hand control of the series over to Dan Andersen and his Andersen Promotions team has resulted in a number of decisive actions, including an update to the series' aged 2002 Dallara chassis for 2014, the introduction of a new car for 2015, and even a new website for the Lights series which debuted last week.
Firestone held a pivotal role within the Indy Lights series since replacing Goodyear in the early 1990s, using its participation as a springboard to return to Indy car competition in the CART series. Firestone continued its support of the open-wheel ladder in 2002 when the Indy Racing League created the Infiniti Pro Series, which eventually took on the more familiar Indy Lights moniker when Infiniti withdrew from the series.
Cooper Tires, which supplies tires to the Andersen-led USF2000 and Pro Mazda championships, will now have all three rungs of the Mazda Road To Indy to itself.
With Andersen looking to jump start the Lights series with more cars and team owners, a reduction in tire pricing to entrants, which is believed to be one of the major benefits of the new partnership, is expected for 2014.
Full details on activation and sponsorship plans by Cooper Tires should come in the next 48 hours.