Guest blogger Rob Megennis is a 15-year-old racing prodigy and Turo community member. While not old enough to rent a car from the Turo marketplace, his prowess behind the wheel has captured the attention of Turo, and we’ve sponsored his racing circuit for the 2016 season. Stay tuned as Rob blogs on the Mazda Road to Indy.
This past weekend was Round Two of the USF2000 Championship Series on the Mazda Road to Indy, and we headed to Birmingham for the Grand Prix of Alabama. Barber Motorsports Park is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. The grass is pristine, the curbs are beautiful, there are sculptures everywhere; it’s like racing in a park or museum. It’s also a really complex track with lots of elevation changes and flowing corners.
I did a good job in qualifying and was actually third fastest for part of the session. Halfway through the 30-minute session I came into the pits to change tires, which would have made me even faster. But we were the last team to put new tires on and, right after we did, there was an accident and a red flag that ended the session. Unlike the other drivers, I ended with no new tire laps and unfortunately was stuck in tenth place to start Race One.
Race One was disappointing. There are few places to overtake at Barber, so starting tenth was a bit of an impossible task. Also, between qualifying in the morning and the first race at the end of the day, the track conditions had changed a lot. We didn’t spot it and we didn’t set up the car to adapt. I fell back to twelfth to avoid a spinning car and ended the race there.
Race Two was slated for late afternoon on Saturday, so I had a lot of free time that morning. I reviewed a lot of data and talked with the engineering team about the car. All four drivers on our team were locked in the trailer for ages while we decided how to change the car. When that was finally done, I met Misty and Rigo, who were our guests that day and the first people to list a car on Turo in Alabama. They had never been to a race before so I don’t think they knew what to expect.
Before Race Two, I went to the IndyCar Fan Village to sign autographs. It was great fun meeting a few hundred race fans. And they all called me “Sir,” which was eye-opening for someone from New York!
Race Two was phenomenal. I could tell on the warm-up lap that the car felt good. Starting tenth, I overtook three people on the first lap and moved up to seventh. Every few laps I managed to catch and pass another car. About halfway through the race, I caught up to Anthony Martin, who is a super experienced driver. I made the overtaking move of my life to get past him, and then I was the second fastest car on track. I crossed the line in third place. After the race, I parked at the podium and jumped out and Misty and Rigo were there to hug me.
I think everyone was amazed, including me. Four races and two podiums, and I have started them all from ninth or tenth position. My race team, Team Pelfrey, is amazing. This weekend, they worked incredibly hard to figure out the cars and fix performance issues for Race Two.
My third place finish makes me the highest ranked rookie as well as the highest ranked American driver.
On Sunday I got to relax. There were lots of autographs to sign and press interviews to do. Then I watched the Verizon IndyCar race with Rigo and Misty. I hope I get to see them next season.
Next up: Indy.
See you all in May. Thanks Turo for making it all happen!