No matter what the racing discipline, aspiring drivers don't simply show up to a race at the top level and start competing. Most have a whole ladder set up to nurture up-and-coming talents, like the Road to Indy program – which includes the Pro Mazda Championship that's introducing the new single-seater you see here.
Revealed at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, the new PM-18 is set to be introduced into the middle tier of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires.
Built by Italian racing chassis constructor Tatuus, the PM-18 is based closely on the new USF-17 introduced for the Formula 2000 series that's one step below the Pro Mazda series on the ladder. It's built around the same carbon/aluminum-honeycomb monocoque, but incorporates a new adjustable dual-element rear wing, single-plane front wing and endplates, and larger rolling stock.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-PM18A engine developed by Elite Engines. Rated at 275 horsepower, it's a solid 100 hp more powerful than the USF2000 version. Testing is set to commence in March before the first 15 examples are delivered to teams in June. Once on the grid, the new chassis is earmarked to endure for five seasons before needing replacing.
Together with the aforementioned USF-17 being introduced next season and the Dallara IL-15 chassis that debuted in the next-level Indy Lights series just last year, the arrival of the new PM-18 gives the Road to Indy an entirely fresh slate of machinery for to foster the next generation of talent in American open-wheel racing.