By: Kobe Lambeth
Spencer Pigot is a rising open-wheel star who will most likely become an IndyCar regular for years to come. He will make his Indy 500 debut this year and I believe that it will be a memorable one for Pigot. The young racer spent the 2015 season in the Indy Lights Series.
“My rookie year in Indy Lights definitely went better than expected. Juncos Racing was new to the championship and we had two rookie drivers going against teams and drivers with much more experience than us. As expected with a first-year program, we had weekends where we were extremely fast and somewhere we struggled for pace. Overall, it was obviously a great season, we won a lot of races and the championship so it doesn’t get much better than that.”
It is great to see a young driver like Pigot thrive in the Indy Lights Series. I do not watch a lot of those races, but I saw Pigot running near the front every time I tuned into a broadcast. Indy Lights is a fantastic series to help our young and promising open-wheel drivers reach their goals of making it to the Verizon IndyCar Series. A big thanks go to the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system.
Pigot said, “The Mazda Road to Indy ladder system has been crucial for me. I would not be going into the Verizon IndyCar Series without the scholarships I won from Mazda and Cooper Tires. It gives young drivers that don’t have lots of family money behind them a chance to continue their career and their dream to be in the Indianapolis 500.”
This is a great program for young open-wheel drivers who do not have the significant financial backing to continue to live the dream of making it to the top level of American open-wheel racing. I wish there was a program like that in NASCAR to help drivers such as Ryan Ellis and Hannah Newhouse. As I previously mentioned, it was announced a while ago that Pigot will make his Indy 500 debut in May. He is extremely excited for this amazing opportunity to shine on the big stage.
“I’m really excited about being with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing next year. They are coming off a great season and hopefully, we can continue that momentum. The opportunity to be in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is amazing, something I’ve always dreamt about and worked towards.”
The Indy 500 is a special race and it means a lot to every driver that has ever had the chance to take part in the event. Having a great race at Indy could potentially land a young driver a high-quality ride in the future. This made me wonder if Pigot has a successful race, then is it a “mini audition” for a full-time ride in 2017?
Pigot responded, “I’m not sure if the 500 is necessarily an audition for 2017 but I know that it can’t do any harm if I’m able to do a good job in the three races I’ll be in. I’m just going to focus on the job at hand and do the best I can, hopefully, an opportunity for more races in 2016 or 2017 will come up.”
It is going to be a big year for Spencer Pigot as he has three races in the Verizon IndyCar Series to focus on, along with his sportscar debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month. He will co-drive the Number 55 LMP2 car from Mazda Motorsports with drivers, Jonathan Bomarito, and Tristian Nunez.
Pigot said, “I’m looking forward to racing at Daytona with Mazda this year. It’s a race I’ve always attended as a fan and can’t wait to get there and experience the race for myself.”
I am looking forward to seeing Pigot join the Mazda factory team for Daytona, especially after seeing him lay down some quite lap times at the Roar! Mazda can do a lot for a driver’s career and it goes much further than just pathing the way for open-wheel drivers. Pigot is looking to become a full-time IndyCar driver someday but somehow found himself about to make his sportscar racing debut in one of America’s greatest endurance classics. I believe that Mazda can definitely help a driver as it exposes him to other types of motorsports with the support of the manufacturer. Honestly, I wish more manufacturers had programs like that. Pigot has driven Indy Lights cars powered by a Mazda engine and now will race a Mazda LMP2 car. After getting some seat time in the prototype, he was able to compare and contrast it with the open-wheel machine.
“The new Mazda-powered IL-15 trains drivers very well for bigger faster cars. It made my transition into the Prototype very comfortable. The cars are quite a bit different, obviously the Prototype is a bigger car but it has a lot of power and downforce like the Indy Lights car. It’s a right-hand drive car so that took a few laps to get used to!”
As Pigot’s sportscar debut is coming soon, he is excited for Mazda’s chances in this year’s edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“As a team, we are expecting to be fast and challenge towards the front of the pack. Mazda is there to fight for wins and that’s what we hope to do at Daytona.”
After observing lap times from the Roar, I believe that Mazda is going to be a dangerous team when there is one hour to go in the Rolex 24. With a new gasoline engine, experienced and quick drivers, look for Mazda Motorsports to make some noise in the twice around the clock endurance classic.
*Thanks to Spencer Pigot for the interview and I wish you a successful 2016 season!*