Plus: Series takes part in first day of Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park
The Firestone Indy Lights developmental series has a new man in charge.
Tony George Jr., the eldest son of INDYCAR/Indy Racing League founder Tony George, has taken over as director of the series, replacing the retiring Roger Bailey. George, Jr., 28, has been FIL’s manager of business development and has worked within the INDYCAR family since 2008.
“Firestone Indy Lights has seen steady growth since coming under INDYCAR sanction, and it continues to grow in the depth of competition and stature as the essential step to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” George said in a series release. “It is important to develop young drivers both on and off the track for their careers to flourish. We have aggressive goals for the series, including making it a technological proving ground for manufacturers looking to enter INDYCAR.”
The sanctioning body has also announced multiple other promotions and additions. Jason Penix is now INDYCAR’s director of grassroots initiatives; Vince Kremer has joined INDYCAR as the Lights’ technical director; and Tony Cotman will return to Lights race control.
“The team that we’re bringing on board this upcoming season is the strongest team we’ve had thus far,” George said later in the release. “With the addition of Vince and the return of [Cotman], Firestone Indy Lights will certainly have the essential backbone it needs to grow as a series and continue to make its mark as the premier ladder series in open-wheel racing.”
George, Jr. takes over FIL as the series heads for its season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday afternoon. The FIL teams and drivers are currently preparing for the event with a two-day test at Barber Motorsports Park that concludes tomorrow.
Speaking of which, the first day of action at Barber was led by French rookie Tristan Vautier, who moves up to FIL after claiming last year’s Star Mazda crown. Vautier, who posted a hot lap of 77.5617 seconds (106.754 mph), will drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this season.
After Vautier were the two Andretti Autosport drivers: Sebastian Saavedra in P2 (77.7351/106.516) and newcomer Carlos Munoz (77.8682/106.334), a Colombian that comes to Lights after running in the Formula 3 Euroseries for the last two seasons.
Israel’s Alon Day was fourth-quickest (77.9704/106.194) for Belardi Auto Racing, while 2011 FIL runner-up Esteban Guerreri (78.2645/105.795) rounded out the top five in another SSM entry.