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.
When I first arrived in Toronto, the city felt very special to me. Having traveled to Europe a lot, I know it has a different “atmosphere” than the United States; Toronto felt like a fun mixture of the US and Europe. It is a beautiful city with great food, views, and friendly people. We stayed at the historic Royal York hotel, and our stay was one of the best of the season.
The track was set in the downtown lakeshore area and built on actual roads—a true street circuit! The event was filled with people, and the Canadian fans are so passionate, the stands were even packed on the Friday! The Toronto street circuit was super fun.
The track was more technical and had more character than many others. The manhole covers, bumps, painted curbs, elevation, painted lines, and walls made the street circuit a driver’s track. The long straights from the starting line to Turn 1 and from Turn 2 to Turn 3 created some good passing opportunities, while the tight, twisty corners like Turns 8-11 made for a challenge every lap. It was a true, pure street circuit and one of the most fun races this year.
In the first practice session, on my new tires, I hit the wall on my very first lap. I wasn’t pushing hard, just trying to learn the track, but in turn 8 I got caught out by a bump, was thrown onto the damp part of the track and then into the wall. I broke off the nose and front wing of my car and bent the front left suspension, but I was able to limp back to pit lane. My session was over. I was truly upset with myself because the incident was solely my fault.
To make matters worse, in the qualifying session, I had an electrical issue after just 3 laps. The car just shut off on the back half of the track. This set me up for a 19th place starting position, out of 20. I wasn’t nearly as angry as I was in practice, though, as this was a car issue. There was nothing I could’ve done, and breakdowns are just a part of racing. I knew that I’d have to make the most of my situation in the races.
Going into Race 1, starting 19th, I knew I had to be assertive. The races are only 30 minutes; I had to overtake as many cars as I could, as soon as possible. I had nothing to lose and I bullied my way by past all the slower cars. After two full course cautions (when everyone has to line up again), countless scary moments, and 14 overtakes I ended the race a great 5th place! So many people came up to me afterwards to tell me it was incredible.
In Race 2 I started a little closer to the front, but still in a disappointing 12th place. At the start, I moved by a two car crash and, by the halfway point, was up to 5th, overtaking five more cars. I raced hard and set consistent fast laps trying to catch fourth. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch the front pack and settled for another awesome 5th place. Two top 5 finishes—not bad for a first-timer!
The Grand Prix of Toronto was also special for another reason. On Friday, I got to hang out with VICE Canada, an incredible, cutting edge media company. It was a great experience and a ton of fun. I’ve never done such serious video interviews like I did with VICE. It felt very professional but also very casual. I had a good time with their crew and felt comfortable to just answer their interview questions. They stayed with me all day. Their end video and write up were AMAZING and way cooler than I ever thought it would be. They came with Cedric, Turo’s Director of Canada. I had seen some of the recent press announcing the launch of Turo in Canada, and they’re as lucky to have Turo as I am to be Turo’s driver.
Finally, Toronto was special because some important family members came from a long way to support me. My grandparents came from the north of England, my Uncle Ian came from the south of England, and my Uncle Graham came all the way from Istanbul. It was great seeing everyone from different parts of the world. They’re such good fun to have around, and I knew that having my family wouldn’t add any extra stress or pressure. I know they had a great time in Toronto watching me charge to the front in both races and just being in the excitement of an entire race weekend.
What started out with a crash and an electrical failure ended amazingly well. A great result with my family and Turo Canada in the stands and VICE capturing it all on video.