The Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship – a six-race mini-series held in February which offers drivers and teams a head start on their regular season campaigns – has been a staple of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda the past three years. In 2014, series promoter Andersen Promotions will take the concept to a new level with an expanded program to include the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, a testing opportunity for Indy Lights and two new venues.
The 2014 Cooper Tires Winterfest will be held over six days and will feature two triple-header events for USF2000 (six races) and two double-header events for Pro Mazda (four races) with $30,000 in prize money on offer for both series. In addition, the schedule will be expanded to include four days of open testing for Indy Lights. For the first time, the event will include all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy.
The championship will kick off at the state-of-the-art NOLA Motorsports Park, in New Orleans, La., on Feb. 21-22. The $60 million, 750-acre park circuit opened in 2011. Comprising numerous configurations – including the longest road course in the United States at 5.37 miles when the course configurations are combined – the series will utilize the 2.75-mile, 16-turn “North” circuit for the two-day outing.
On Feb. 25-26, drivers will switch their attention to the Barber Motorsports Park circuit in Birmingham, Ala. The 2.38-mile, 17-turn circuit will be on the 2014 regular season schedule for all three series providing a valuable pre-season opportunity.
“The Cooper Tires Winterfest is something I look forward to every year and now even more so with our expanded program and two new and fantastic facilities,” said Dan Andersen, Oowner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “It's a great opportunity to preview the new talent we have coming into all of our series and, with the inclusion of Pro Mazda in the championship and Indy Lights testing, we will have a first glimpse of the progression of our drivers who are advancing to the next levels before the regular season.
“We have received so much positive feedback on the Cooper Tires Winterfest since its launch in 2011. It is a great opportunity for teams and drivers to develop their relationships in an actual racing environment before the season gets underway, and it's cost effective. I have to thank our tremendous partners at Cooper Tires for continuing to support this program.”
Cooper Tires was recently announced as the Official Tire of Indy Lights beginning in 2014, making the Findlay, Ohio-based manufacturer the Official Tire of the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. Since its inception in 2010, over 30 drivers have advanced on the Mazda Road to Indy toward the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 underscoring its success as a clearly defined, scholarship-supported path to the upper echelons of the sport.
“It's amazing what Dan Andersen has created in such a short time,” stated Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tire. “By unifying the Mazda Road to Indy, the growth and awareness of the entire open-wheel program seems to be at an all-time high, but we all know that it's just the beginning and Cooper Tire is proud to be part of that growth."
Entry forms and additional details on the Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship will be posted on the series respective websites by month's end – www.usf2000.com <http://usf2000.com/Home.aspx
> , www.promazdachampionship.com <http://promazdachampionship.com/
> and www.indylights.com <http://indylights.com/