Meet the Indy Lights contenders: Spencer Pigot
Spencer Pigot of Juncos Racing is one of four drivers in contention for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship title heading into the double-header series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 11-13.
The champion is awarded a $1 million scholarship toward the Verizon IndyCar Series with three guaranteed races, including the historic 100th Indianapolis 500, in 2016.
Spencer Pigot has become the face of the Mazda Road to Indy driver development system. As a three-time Mazda scholarship winner, Pigot continues to progress up the ladder toward his ultimate goal: driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Racing karts from the age of 9 near his family’s home in Orlando, Fla., Pigot earned four state, one regional and two national championship titles over the next five years. Moving into formula cars, Pigot’s victory in the 2009 Skip Barber Shoot-Out earned him his first Mazda scholarship, propelling Pigot into the BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series as an official Mazda Development Driver. Earning three wins, five poles and 12 top-three finishes in 2010 earned him the title and the next step in the ladder, entry into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda where he was vice champion two years running.
Moving into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires ranks in 2013, Pigot went on to take the 2014 Pro Mazda title with his former karting team Juncos Racing, and the Mazda scholarship to help him make the jump to Indy Lights.
But many years ago, a very young Pigot began his racing career on two wheels, not four.
“I started racing dirt bikes – motorcycles and BMX bikes,” said Pigot. “I got a go kart when I was a little older (editor’s note: “older” is 9 years old.) Mom liked the kart a lot better, as it was obviously the safer option of the two! My dad raced Formula Fords so he was a big racing fan and there were a lot more karting tracks than dirt tracks in Florida, so it was an easy transition.
“The best part about being a race car driver is just driving the car. I’ve played lots of other sports, but nothing compares to driving a race car - especially at the start, with all these cars around you. Playing soccer is pretty much always the same, but racing is always changing. Every track is different. There’s so much excitement, you get so pumped up during a race. It’s a unique experience, with all the adrenalin.”
Pigot wasted no time making his presence known in the Indy Lights championship this season, earning podium finishes in each of the first three races before sweeping the pole positions and victories in both races at Barber Motorsports Park. He again took both victories in Toronto in June to take the second spot behind Jack Harvey in the title chase. Only six points back going into the final weekend, Pigot knows that he has to finish ahead of Harvey to have a chance at the title.
“We’ll go into the final weekend with the same plan we’ve had all year, to just do our best. Hopefully we can get pole position and stay out front in the races. If we do that, then everything else takes care of itself. In the back of our minds, we know that no matter what, we have to beat Jack. If we don’t find ourselves out front, that will be our next goal, to make sure we gain points in the first race and see what we can do in the second race.”
Pigot was one of seven Indy Lights drivers to test with an IndyCar team last month, running with Team Penske alongside 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power. He knows that the ladder system he’s on is his best bet to one day race against Power in the big cars.
“They’ve put together a great package for us this year between Dallara, Mazda and Cooper Tires. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the old car. It’s much closer to an Indy car, not just in terms of handling but everything in the car: paddle shift, push-to-pass, the buttons on the wheel, different maps you can choose. There’s a lot more going on in an Indy car than in the Indy Lights car, but it’s definitely a big step forward in every area.
“That’s what the Mazda Road to Indy really brings to us. I wouldn’t be racing Indy Lights if not for them. They’ve been fantastic to me. I’ve been a part of the Mazda family for years. I won my first scholarship when I was 16 years old. It’s not just the prize to move up. It’s getting to race at all the same tracks as the IndyCar guys, in front of the IndyCar teams. It’s the best of the best here and anyone who wants to come to IndyCar, all the best guys are here and that’s who you’re competing against and judging yourself off of. It’s been proven that if you can do well in the Mazda Road to Indy, you can do the job there as well.”
Additional background information on Pigot as well as a full schedule for the season finale weekend can be found at www.indylights.com.