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 in New York Daily News for his accomplishments behind the wheel.
Heading out to the Grand Prix of Road America, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The track is an hour north of Milwaukee and we made plans to stay in a small cottage next to the racetrack. Located on an island in the middle of Crystal Lake and right on the water — with a dock, screened-in porch, and tons of space to sit and look out at the lake — the house was amazing. So was the city of Elkhart Lake — nice restaurants, views, and a town center. We had a great time even when I wasn’t at the track; I see now why people head to lakes in the Midwest in the summertime.
The longest and highest speed track on the USF2000 calendar, Road America was one of the most fun tracks I’ve ever driven. Not only do we hit high speeds reaching the top speed capable of the USF2000 car — but the corners are FAST and flowing, with an average speed above 110 mph on most bends. There are lots of places where you can overtake, compared to the twists of tight road courses and street circuits, as well as long straights and extreme drafts, all of which make for incredible racing.
The atmosphere at the track was electric. Similar to the crowds at street circuits, the fans were enthusiastic and the pits were crowded. I’ve never met such passionate fans as I did last weekend, and never expected such a huge fan base in such a small Wisconsin town — 120,000 fans came to watch. Indycar’s decision to come back to Road America after a few years away surely paid off.
In practice we had our first USF2000 crash, when a car drastically slowed down in the middle of the straight, directly in front of me. With barely any time to react I ran into the back of him, ripping off the front wing and sending it flying. After choice words over the radio to my team, I limped back to the pits for repair. However, this crash set us back. After eight practice laps, we were thrown into qualifying on a brand new track.
Into the weekend, there was a qualifying session and two races. If I had to highlight one event, it would be the first race. Race one at Road America was FUN. A sub-par qualifying due to a bad setup started us in P14, but not a problem! Showing our true pace in the 11 laps and two restarts, we were up to fifth place at one point and ended seventh after a hard battle on a last lap restart. The drafting down the long straights made for lots of passing and some exciting racing!
Overall, I feel pretty confident leaving this weekend. It was a bit of a struggle, but when we got the engineering and aerodynamics right, we showed we had the pace to be at the front. Our results may not reflect our progress, but we’re improving every race. I have a good feeling going into Toronto in a few weeks!