The Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series has been rebranded as the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires for 2016, with a new logo to boot, and the newly named series’ schedule has also been released on Friday.
“Mazda is pleased to be the title partner of the Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires,” said John Doonan, director of motorsports at Mazda North American Operations.
“For many drivers, it is a first step into high-speed, high-downforce Prototype cars, which is why it is a part of our driver development ladder system, the Mazda Road to 24.
“Mazda advertisements say ‘Driving Matters,’ and this series is a great example of that idea. With the Mazda power, Cooper Tires and Élan chassis all being equal, the driver is the key element to victory. Driving does matter.
A 14-race schedule has been released, with six confirmed weekends and 12 races established. A seventh race weekend will be announced at a later date.
As it stands now, there’s more than a two-month gap in-between the first and second weekends at Sebring and Watkins Glen, with additional rounds at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta.
The Mazda Raceway weekend will run on Sept. 9-11, in conjunction with the Mazda Road to Indy, to create an all-Mazda-powered mix of open-wheel and sports car content weekend at Mazda’s de facto “home track.”
This weekend, along with the to-be-determined weekend, will be the two where Prototype Lites will run separate from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires is a series that represents great value and opportunity for a wide variety of competitors,” said Randy Hembrey, IMSA senior series manager, Development & Single-Make Series.
“It’s doing a fantastic job of developing career-minded young drivers who wish to advance to the professional level of sports car racing while providing challenging, cost-effective racing in high-performance downforce cars for more seasoned racers.
“This combination continues to appeal to more teams, drivers and fans, and the return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will create even more interest.”
“We’re excited about seeing the series return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” Doonan added. “It’s our ‘spiritual home’ of sorts here in North America, and I believe fans will see fast and very competitive racing at one of the most iconic circuits in the world.”
“We’re happy to continue our support of Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires,” said Chris Pantani, Cooper Tires director of motorsports. “We really enjoy the opportunity to watch, develop and foster drivers’ careers through this important development platform while strengthening the relationships we have built in the IMSA paddock since 2010.”
2016 Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires Schedule
March 16-18 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida*
June 30-July 2 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York*
July 8-10 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario*
Aug. 26-28 VIRginia International Raceway, Danville, Virginia*
Sept. 9-11 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California
Sept. 28-30 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia*
NOTE: An additional event weekend and venue will be announced at a later date.
* — In conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events