2023 is a year of new horizons for Joel Granfors, as he bursts onto the INDYCAR support arena in an exciting move across the Atlantic. The American debut will take place in USF Pro 2000, one of the most influential feeder series in U.S. single-seater racing. This is your guide to the championship.
// What is it?
USF Pro 2000 (officially USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires) is positioned two levels below the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, America’s top-tier single-seater category. In between the two, there is INDY NXT – formerly known as Indy Lights. Below USF Pro 2000 sit two lower categories, USF2000 and USF Juniors.
The majority of USF Pro 2000 races are run in conjunction with INDYCAR.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
USF Pro 2000
USF Pro 2000 can trace its roots back to 1991, when the series first saw the light of day as the Star Mazda Championship. Star Mazda later morphed into Pro Mazda, before rebranding as Indy Pro 2000 in 2019. The 2023 campaign will be the first under its new name, USF Pro 2000.
Several INDYCAR drivers have raced in the series on the road to stardom, including Pato O’Ward, Graham Rahal, Rinus Veekay and Kyle Kirkwood. No Swedish driver has ever won the championship (although Rasmus Lindh finished second in 2019).
// What’s at stake?
The 2023 USF Pro 2000 champion will receive a scholarship valued at $664,500 to advance to INDY NXT in 2024.
// The car
The USF Pro 2000 car boasts similar performance to GB3, where Joel raced last year in Britain. A spec formula with technically identical cars, the IP-22 chassis is built by Tatuus, while the 275-bhp 2.0-litre engine comes from Mazda. Power is transmitted through a Sadev six-speed gearbox. Cooper Tires is the official tyre supplier. Weight (without driver and fuel): 530 kg. Top speed: 270 km/h.
// The grid
Roughly 20 drivers are set to join the championship in 2023. Joel races the #92 Corpay car for Exclusive Autosport, the same team that took Britain’s Louis Foster to the 2022 title. Exclusive Autosport field four drivers this season: Joel, Lindsay Brewer (USA), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (USA) and Salvador de Alba (Mexico).
Competition is stiff. The top three finishers in last year’s USF2000 standings are all moving up to USF Pro 2000, led by champion Michael d’Orlando (USA). There are also several drivers with experience from FIA F3 and FIA F2, such as Francesco Pizzi (Italy), Reece Ushijima (USA) and Lirim Zendeli (Germany).
The season features nine championship rounds, split between two street tracks, six road courses, and one oval. At the majority of the meetings, two races are held. The exceptions are the oval event at Lucas Oil Raceway, which features only a single race, and a triple-header finale in Portland. All in all, 18 races are set to be played out in 2023.
Races are 30 minutes long, with rolling starts and no pit stops.
March 4-5 / Streets of St. Petersburg
Street Course | Florida
March 25-26 / Sebring
Road Course | Florida
May 12-13 / Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Road Course | Indiana
May 27 / Lucas Oil Raceway
Oval | Indiana
June 17-18 / Road America
Road Course | Wisconsin
July 1-2 / Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Road Course | Ohio
July 15-16 / Toronto
Street Course | Ontario
August 26-27 / Circuit of the Americas
Road Course | Texas
September 2-3 / Portland
Road Course | Oregon
// Points allocation
Points are awarded in every race, with separate scales used for street/road courses and ovals. The driver collecting the highest number of points across the full season is crowned champion.
Adding to the above, the following bonus points are on offer in each race:
Pole position: 1 point
Fastest race lap: 1 point
Most laps led: 1 point
There are no reverse-grid races in USF Pro 2000. Grids are solely based on lap times. For Race 1 on double-header weekends, the grid is set based on outright qualifying lap times. For Race 2, the grid is based on second-fastest qualifying times or Race 1 lap times, whichever is quicker.
// How can I watch it?
There is live streaming available globally and free of charge on the USF Pro Championships app, at www.usfpro2000.com, and on YouTube. Also check www.joelgranfors.com for streaming links during race weekends.
// Previous champions
All champions in USF Pro 2000 and its predecessors.
|2022||Louis Foster||Exclusive Autosport|
|2021||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development|
|2020||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing|
|2019||Kyle Kirkwood||RP Motorsport USA|
|2018||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing|
|2017||Victor Franzoni||Juncos Racing|
|2016||Aaron Telitz||Team Pelfrey|
|2015||Santiago Urrutia||Team Pelfrey|
|2014||Spencer Pigot||Juncos Racing|
|2013||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport|
|2012||Jack Hawksworth||Team Pelfrey|
|2011||Tristan Vautier||JDC MotorSports|
|2010||Conor Daly||Juncos Racing|
|2009||Adam Christodoulou||JDC MotorSports|
|2008||John Edwards||AIM Autosport|
|2007||Dane Cameron||JDC MotorSports|
|2006||Adrian Carrio||World Speed Motorsports|
|2005||Raphael Matos||Ocean Tomo Racing|
|2004||Michael McDowell||Valley Motor Center|
|2003||Luis Schiavo||Racers Edge Motorsports|
|2002||Guy Cosmo||Racers Edge Motorsports|
|2001||Scott Bradley||World Speed Motorsports|
|2000||Bernardo Martinez||Team Bucknum|
|1999||Joey Hand||S3 Racing|
|1998||Ian Lacy||S3 Racing|
|1997||Tony Buffomante||Valley Motor Center|
|1996||Rich Stephens||Miller Team Racing|
|1995||Mark Rodrigues||Valley Motor Center|
|1994||Brad Loehner||Loehner Racing|
|1993||Ben Massey||World Speed Motorsports|
|1992||Chuck West||World Speed Motorsports|
|1991||Mark Rodrigues||Valley Motor Center|