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.
Indianapolis becomes the racing capital of the world in May when it hosts the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and, two weeks later, the Indy 500. Both events take place at the largest capacity sports stadium in the world — the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), which has 235,000 permanent seats and infield seating that brings the total crowd to 400,000.
I was amazed at the size and magnificence of IMS. You could feel the history through the bricks, the famous pagoda, and the entire facility. It was cool to think about the legends that have driven on this track.
I was also surprised at how big and lively downtown Indy was — the whole town comes to life for the Grand Prix and the Indy 500. Huge banners were everywhere, several hotels had their own IndyCars on display, and 150,000 people attended the parade before the 500! It was AWESOME.
My first race weekend was the Grand Prix (GP) of Indianapolis. The Grand Prix track uses one bend and one straight plus an infield course for a total of 14 turns over 2.5 miles. Qualifying for Indy GP was a bit confusing; I felt extremely comfortable in the car, but we were WAY off and qualified in fifteenth place. I made the most of the situation though and had some fun starting in the back. In the first race, I made up seven places and finished P8. In the more eventful second race, I moved forward three positions in the first lap and was about to make up three more but went off on to the grass to avoid a crash in front of me, which put me back to fifteenth, where I started. After a lengthy caution, the race restarted. With five laps to go, I passed five people to finish a solid tenth.
I’d never felt anything like going down the straight at IMS. The sheer height of the stands and the famous number board are amazing. With a full 24 seconds at 160 mph, full throttle down the very long straight, I could sit back and admire the sheer awesomeness of this track.
I returned two weeks later for my first ever oval race. Carb Day is the Friday before the Indy 500, which is when the Mazda Road to Indy series runs. For oval racing, you have to throw out everything you know from road courses and learn the basics of racing on ovals. The car feels completely different, and every small moment is exaggerated many times. The levels of precision and concentration have to be higher because both high speed corners have to be perfect to go fast.
The constant high speeds and increased concentration cause more physical fatigue than road racing. I’ve never been as sore as I was after racing on the oval! I was thrilled with my result though. With the third fastest lap, I finished sixth and lapped every other rookie in the field at least once.
On Sunday, my family and I took on the adventure and madness that is the Indy 500. This year set records — it was the hundredth running and every seat was sold out. We started our day at 6:30 am — five and a half hours before the event started — just so we could get in! For $40 we parked on the front lawn of some guy who lived near the track.
Thanks to my driver ID, I was able to wander up and down pit lane before the race. At 11:00, we tried to make it to our seats, along with over 200,000 other people, and it felt like the biggest line in the world. We eventually made it though and enjoyed one of the most exciting races we’d ever seen — Alexander Rossi winning as he ran out of fuel! The Indy 500 is truly a once in a lifetime event that every car fan should have on their bucket list. Three hours of racing at 240 mph!
May in Indy was unforgettable for me: having two top 10 finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, racing on an oval for the first time, and attending the hundredth running of the Indy 500. All in all, it certainly was an awesome month.