Indy Lights: Developing Talent On and Off the Track


At Andretti Autosport, the Indy Lights program has played an
integral role in many of the success stories that come from the company. Not
just relegated to drivers, the program allows engineers, mechanics and other
team positions the opportunity to learn in an environment that fosters upward
mobility in their respective careers.


Many renowned drivers have come through the Andretti Autosport
Indy Lights program; Arie Luyendyk Jr., J.R. Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball,
Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Kyle Kirkwood and many others have parlayed their
Indy Lights experience into INDYCAR success. Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood are
two of the latest alumni to make the transition; Herta, currently a driver in
the NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver; and Kirkwood, who will make his return to
Andretti Autosport as an INDYCAR driver for the 2023 season after his current
rookie year.


On the competition side of the program, Keith Gummer proves that
even crew members can have valuable experiences and connections garnered from
time spent in Indy Lights. Gummer, current INDYCAR Mechanic and Tire Changer of
the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda driven by Colton Herta, worked on various Indy
Lights cars for five years, first as Second Mechanic and ultimately working his
way up to Crew Chief. Gummer’s real-world Indy Lights experiences, as well as
the network of connections he made during that time, gave him an edge in
securing his current INDYCAR role at Andretti Autosport.


“The Indy Lights program is a great starting point for younger men
and women,” Gummer explains. “The program gives you a chance to learn all
aspects of a race car that’s very similar to an INDYCAR, while also building
the relationships with people in the racing industry that ultimately ended in
me being able to make the move into INDYCAR. In INDYCAR you have specific roles
and don’t deal with many people outside of your team, but in Indy Lights I was
dealing with parts vendors, league officials, other teams and more and I’m
lucky to still stay in contact with some of them.”


The Indy Lights program at Andretti Autosport is able to give many
opportunities to the drivers during their time piloting the cars as well. They
are given access to timing stands during INDYCAR practices and races,
promotional media appearances similar to INDYCAR drivers, a look into the
engineering process, access to radio frequencies and more. With the recent
ownership change, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers can now
experience the same series operational protocols as those running in the NTT


Chief Operating Officer at Andretti Autosport, Rob Edwards, has
been around the program and helped develop it into the success it is today.


“The Indy Lights program is an intrinsic part of our DNA at
Andretti Autosport,” Edwards states. “Indy Lights has provided and continues to
provide an important development opportunity for drivers, crew and engineers
alike. The list of drivers that have progressed through the Andretti Autosport
Indy Lights program to IndyCar is second to none. After 5 Championships
(including the last 3) and 72 wins (as of Mid-Ohio) the drive to succeed is as
strong as ever for all of us. We look forward to the next generation of
drivers, crew and engineers using the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights program
as the step to their career goals.”


Andretti Autosport looks forward to further integrating with new
ownership under the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after the inaugural 2022 season. The
efforts made by all on the program ensure a clear and direct path for all racing
disciplines to climb the ladder from Indy Lights to INDYCAR with support from
the Andretti Autosport family.