Recently-crowned Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot will take the final step along the Mazda Road to Indy next season as he joins Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to contest at least three Verizon IndyCar Series events, including the historic 100th Indianapolis 500.
The 22-year old Floridian becomes the first driver to progress all the way along the Mazda Road to Indy, winning four scholarships in the process. Having started his racing career in karting at the age of nine, Pigot graduated through the Skip Barber Racing School, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Pro Mazda Championship before securing this year's Indy Lights title, cementing a $1m prize to assist him in making the final step to IndyCar.
“The Mazda Road to Indy has been vital for my development as a driver,” Pigot admitted, “It's safe to say I wouldn't be going into the Verizon IndyCar Series without the experience and support I gained from each level. Each car teaches you something new and racing at the same tracks as IndyCar throughout my Mazda Road to Indy career will only help my transition. It's the place to be for anyone trying to make it to IndyCar.”
The initial three-race association with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing comprises the 2016 season opener at St Petersburg and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis as well as the Indy 500, but both parties are hoping their association can be extended into a full-season of competition.
“I'm very excited and honoured to be starting my career in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Pigot continued, “It's always been my goal to be an Indycar driver and be in the Indianapolis 500. I can't thank everyone at RLL and Andersen Promotions enough for this opportunity.
“I think it's a great place for me to be as a rookie because of all the experience within the team. The team is coming off a great 2015 season and, hopefully, we can build on that success. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be a very special moment for me and the highlight of my career so far. It's what I've been working towards ever since I started racing. It's the biggest race in the world and I can't wait to be a part of it.”
RLL was a championship contender entering the season-finale of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series with Graham Rahal, but eventually finished fourth overall in series standings. Pigot will run alongside the second-generation racer at each of his three confirmed outings next season.
“All of us at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing are very pleased that we were able to work with Dan Andersen and the IndyCar Series to bring Spencer to our team for these events,” said co-owner Bobby Rahal, “I have gotten to know Spencer over the years and have been impressed with his progression through the various series, being champion in Pro Mazda and the Indy Lights Series. Clearly the Indy Lights platform is a very good one for young drivers trying to reach IndyCar and I am confident that Spencer can shine with our team.
“At RLL, we have a track record of bringing young drivers in to the IndyCar Series like Danica Patrick, and giving experienced drivers new opportunities to recapture their past success like Ryan Hunter-Reay and Buddy Rice did with the team. We're looking forward to having Spencer, another young American driver in the series, alongside Graham and are excited about what the future holds.”
Pigot's announcement comes as the Team USA Scholarship programme, which he was a part of in his formative years, heads to the UK for the annual Formula Ford finales.
“The Team USA Scholarship was a fantastic opportunity,” recalls Pigot, who carried Team USA colours in England both in 2010 and 2011. “It taught me how to adapt quickly to a new environment. Going to a different country with a new team, car, tracks [and] competition forces you to mature quickly as a driver in many ways. I was fortunate to be picked twice, and each time presented new challenges I hadn't faced before. The things I learned have helped me as I moved forward in my career here in America on the Mazda Road to Indy.”