Guest blogger Rob Megennis is a 16-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.
Rob also was recently featured on VICE Sports for his accomplishments behind the wheel.
The Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio took place in a very different environment than the other races of this year. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located right outside of a small Amish town, filled with cute stores and family restaurants. It was fun to get away from the big cities like St. Petersburg, Toronto, and Indianapolis. But, though the surrounding area was rural and peaceful, the track on race days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) was packed with fans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many RVs in one place in my life. They lined the entire outside of the track. It was crazy! The fans were so passionate, I had my busiest autograph session of the year. What an atmosphere!
When we landed in Columbus, we had a Turo car waiting for us right outside of baggage claim. It was super convenient, and the owner, Sunny, was really nice. She helped make the usually painful experience of renting a car as easy as possible. Not only was it convenient, but I also got to show up in a badass Mercedes all weekend. Thanks Sunny and Turo!
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course track has much more to it than meets the eye. From an outside view the track looks simple; in reality, however, it’s anything but. The layout and distance between corners make for some unconventional racing lines, and the elevation, bumps, and sealants also affect where you have to place the car. On the exit of turn nine, the track massively drops down and it feels like a roller coaster every lap. Taking on Mid-Ohio requires smart thinking, concentration, smooth driving, and a lot of momentum. Great for racing!
We didn’t have the most positive start to the weekend. In the qualifying session, I went off on the exit of the high speed turn one, damaging my front wing and impairing my car. However, even with a damaged machine, I still managed to qualify in eighth place. Then, bad luck struck in Race 1 when my car broke down on the first lap with an electrical failure. I nursed the car back to pits. The team did an awesome job fixing the car and sending me back out where I ran the same pace as the leaders (unfortunately, at this point, I was a few laps down). In Races 2 and 3, I was able to redeem myself.
In Race 2 I had a good start and restart, moving myself up from a seventh place start to a great fourth place finish. Similarly, in Race 3, I started twelfth and picked my way through the field to seventh. Overall, not the worst weekend as we jumped up to sixth in the championship standings. And I still have a good lead in the race to be Rookie of the Year and the top American driver in the series.
It was also released over the weekend that I was picked as a Team USA Scholarship candidate. The scholarship sends two American drivers to England for a month in October to race at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. Being chosen as a candidate came with tons of epic activities and tasks at the track this weekend, including a one-on-one lunch with the CEO of IndyCar, a tour of race control, and an opportunity to be on IndyCar driver Conor Daly’s radio for his qualifying run.
Interviews for the scholarship were also held on the Friday night. I’d never done an interview with a microphone in front of 20 people before, so I was slightly nervous. When I realized the panel of judges was filled with IndyCar team owners, famous drivers, and other legendary figures, I became even more nervous! My stomach was in knots before, during, and after the interview. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend of activities. This scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for a young driver like me, and I am honored to be a candidate.
Overall, I had a super weekend at the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Even though qualifying and Race 1 didn’t go as planned, Races 2 and 3 were great. I will remember this weekend as an up-and-down one, but one filled with a lot of learning and fun.