Force Indy Taps Myles Rowe for Debut Season

Photo: Miles Rowe, from Indycar

Force Indy, the USF2000 team which will begin this season with assistance from Team Penske, will have 19 year old Myles Rowe as its driver. The team is one of the steps in Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change.

Previous posts

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/12/03/force-indy-penske-drive-for-diversity/

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/12/03/african-american-led-ownership-group-to-compete-in-road-to-indy/

The release from Indycar:

Myles Rowe was named as Force Indy’s inaugural driver in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship during the 2021 season, starting April 15-18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It’s a blessing, for sure,” Rowe said. “I didn’t expect to get started in open-wheel in this way. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Force Indy is a new USF2000 race team set to compete in the 2021 series. For 30 years, USF2000 has been the formative step in the ladder system, which culminates in scholarship opportunities in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This program has grown into a proven pipeline for open-wheel racing’s future stars.

The Force Indy team looks to benefit from the tutelage of the legendary Team Penske, winners of a record 18 Indianapolis 500’s and 16 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships, as part of the Race for Equality & Change initiative.

Rowe tested a USF2000 car in late July 2020 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the Race for Equality & Change program.

“We vetted many deserving young men and women and chose Myles based on his ability and performance, inside and outside of the cockpit,” Force Indy Team Principal Rod Reid said. “He understands Force Indy’s mission of building a diverse team of talented individuals. He’s a great fit for the team.”

Since age 4, Atlanta native Rowe has been fascinated with all things racing. He’s a winner in the 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series. In 2016, he was awarded two “Search for the Champion” grand prize championships from the Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ iconic Champion® brand.

At age 12, Rowe won the Procup Karting Championship during his first full season of racing. He’s competed in the TAG Junior category in the Superkarts USA, World Karting Association and the United States Pro Kart Series.

“I’ve been working hard for this moment with all of the practice I’ve put in since I was 12 years old,” Rowe said. “So, when the opportunity came forth, it was a relief, honestly.”

When he’s not racing, Rowe is a junior at Pace University, studying film and screen studies.

Force Indy is a race team created specifically to develop talent with a diverse group of individuals, outside as well as inside the cockpit. The foundation of Force Indy is the racing background of Reid and a mentorship alliance with Team Penske—the most successful team in motorsports history.

The team leadership brings years of experience from grassroots racing to the Road to Indy ladder system. The organization concentrates on developing skills that promote success at the highest level. Force Indy’s vision is to see motorsports grow ethnically, educationally and across gender.

Force Indy, Penske Drive for Diversity

In the 1930’s African American driver Charlie Wiggins submitted an entry for the Indianapolis 500. It was rejected, not because of his ability. Wiggins was a multiple winner of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The 500 would not have a driver of color until 1991.

Today, a new era of diversity begins at IMS, thanks to efforts from Roger Penske and Rod Reid, who introduced Force Indy to the media today.

Reid laid out his mission early in today’s press conference.

“I kind of see this two ways. One is that we are inviting the black community to come into motorsports through our effort as Force Indy. We are also inviting the motorsports industry to embrace seeing and having the presence of African Americans and people of color in the pits, in the paddock, in other places in motorsports.

I want to be very, very clear that we are about diversity. We are about more than just me as a principal and the drivers. As a matter of fact, one of our core projects that we’ve engaged in in terms of putting this team together is to make sure that we have those positions like mechanics and engineers and others in the mix.”

With the support of Team Penske, Reid, the CEO of NXG Motorsports, will field a car in the 2021 USF2000 series, the first step on the Road to Indy. Reid has spent 40 years in motorsport helping people of color succeed in the sport. Reid believes the mentoring of Team Penske will be a significant boost to the team in its first year.

Jimmie McMillan, Penske Entertainment Chief Diversity Officer, said, “This is very pivotal for the Race for Equality and Change that we are undergoing right now. I could tell you under our leadership, certainly under Roger Penske, but also under Mark Miles, Bud Denker, Doug Boles, Allison Melangton, Jay Frye, we are all committed to changing this sport. It is an everyday laser focus on what we can do to move the needle.”

McMillan added,”As an African American male, I cannot understate the importance of today. Someone who did not grow up with the sport, but grew to fall in love with the sport over time and over being introduced to it by others. I have strived to spread that love to other African Americans, people of color. This is a pivotal morning.”

The car will carry number 99. Reid explained the significance of that number.

“It’s so important for us to know where we’ve come from. There’s a lot of history. African Americans have been in motorsports ever since the beginning of the car, the sport itself.

A gentleman in the 1920s by the name of Dewey Gaston, he went by the nickname Rajo Jack. He actually ran No. 33 for a lot of years, was very, very successful with that number.

He was staging a comeback in the early ’50s, late ’40s. He brought a car that he thought would be extremely successful. That car was a big block engine, thought he was going to put it up front. It was No. 99. He was never able to win in that car. I think he finished the best with like a fourth in one of his races. Then he stopped.

I thought it would be fitting for us to take on that heritage and use the No. 99 to move forward. With the help of the Penske organization, ourself, we wanted to put No. 99 in the winner’s circle.”

Reid expects members of his team to eventually find jobs with other teams in the Indycar paddock. He never speaks just of drivers, but always talks of mechanics, engineers, and people on the business side of the sport. Reid indicated that the team plans to move up the Road to Indy ladder to land in Indycar in the future.

A driver has not been selected as yet. Reid said they are looking for someone who fits their criteria.

“I can tell you there’s a lot of talent out there. There are a lot of deserving drivers. Our goal is to sit down and make a decision and choose one of them that we think fit our criteria.

Very quickly, that criteria includes being an American, it includes being someone that has been given an opportunity to go from karts to cars as part of that transition. We’re also looking for someone that is youthful and can grow with us as we start to develop our team.

Probably the most important thing is they’ve got to fit what our mission is. We’re really all about the full team. This is not just about the driver, as you’ve heard from everyone here.”

There is a lot of speculation that Myles Rowe, who tested with a USF 2000 team last month is the prime candidate, but Reid was noncommittal. Neither would he rule out a female driver.

Unlike the Indianapolis 500 drives of Will T. Ribbs and George Mack, which were essentially one off ventures, Reid is looking at a long term sustainable model to infuse diversity throughout Indycar.

The support from the top should give Force Indy the foundation to succeed. I’m sure Charlie Wiggins is smiling today.

African American-Led Ownership Group To Compete in Road To Indy

From the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Follow up story later.
Team Penske to mentor new team as it launches competition in 2021 USF2000 Series INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020) – African American business leader and former team manager Rod Reid has announced the formation of Force Indy, a race team set to compete in the 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. For 30 years, USF2000 has been the formative step of the popular Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, which culminates in scholarship opportunities in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This program has grown into a proven pipeline for open-wheel racing’s future stars. Force Indy Team Principal Reid brings years of karting and auto racing experience and a recently expanded relationship with NXG Youth Motorsports Inc., which has introduced more than 2,300 students from under-represented communities, ages 11 to 15, to the educational benefits of the sport. Force Indy’s race team will focus on hiring and developing Black American men and women mechanics, engineers, staffers and drivers.  “I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,” Reid said. “I have been in and around the sport for 40 years, and this is just the culmination of years of hard work. I simply cannot wait to see this race team on the track this spring.” The Force Indy announcement includes a mentorship from the legendary Team Penske, winners of a record 18 Indianapolis 500’s and 16 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships. During its first season, Force Indy will be based in Concord, North Carolina, as it receives guidance from Team Penske’s key personnel. “When the IMS and INDYCAR acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman Roger Penske said. “To lend our support to an effort like this is a natural. Together, we’ll work to not only get this new team off the ground but continue to support it and its mission as it continues down a path to compete at the top level.” Force Indy will make its debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 5-7, 2021. The team will use No. 99 on the car in honor of the late Dewey “Rajo Jack” Gatson, who drove a roadster with that number toward the end of his career in 1951. Gatson, one of the winningest African American drivers and mechanics in racing history, never received an opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500.  Overall, the initiative is part of a broader picture in the INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway “Race for Equality & Change,” announced in July. The goals include recruiting and developing a diverse workforce throughout all levels of INDYCAR and IMS, ultimately creating a community that fundamentally transforms the sport. “Rod is a passionate leader and talented team builder who has demonstrated a fundamental commitment to equality and opportunity in our sport,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “IMS has been privileged to be a partner with Rod and NXG for more than a decade, and we know he’ll bring the same commitment and drive for excellence to Force Indy.” Sponsorship and driver for Force Indy’s inaugural season will be announced at a later date. “We are fortunate to have Team Penske offer guidance and race-winning experience,” Reid said. “Roger’s experience will be an invaluable resource in creating a successful organization. There’s no better time than now to start a team.” For additional information, please visit the team’s website: www.ForceIndy.com

Indycar Developments and Non Developments

Some Indycar developments this week have sharpened the 2019 picture a bit, but the big announcements are still to come.

International Media  Rights In House

Indycar has created Indycar Media, a new organization in house distribution of the series’ global media rights. Indycar media plans to make deals with more than 24 licensees representing more than 100 countries. This gives Indycar flexibility to tailor content to specific needs, Sweden might want more features on Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson, Should a certain Spanish driver enter the Indianapolis 500, Spain and a lot of Europe would want more stories about him.

This is a good deal for the series. There is potential for good income growth here.

 

Road to Indy Prize Packages

The Road to Indy and Andersen Promotions revealed their scholarship and cash awards for 2019. A combined total of $2 million is available to the champions of the three series.

The Indy Lights champion receives $1.1 million which goes toward three Indycar races in 2020, including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. Winning the Pro Mazda title nets $596,700. $500,00 of the prize is scholarship money for Indy Lights, and the rest is for entry fees and Cooper tires at the next level.

USF2000’s top driver will have $305,600- a $250,000 scholarship and $55,600 for tires and entry fees in Pro Mazda.

My spending other people’s money segment today-

I think the top three drivers in points should get some scholarship award, even if it means they spend another year at the same level.

Juncos- 2 Cars, No Drivers

Juncos Racing has purchased a second Dallara chassis. They plan to use the second car to enhance their test days. As far as the race schedule, Juncos will again be a part time team. They may run more races with just one car or fewer races with two cars. It’s great to see teams buying extra cars.

Juncos has not signed any drivers fort he season or for testing as of today.

South America?

A video from Brazil today announced an Indycar race will take place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro in2020. The video showed the track layout and an  animated Indycar in Verizon livery driving the circuit. Signage included Verizon, Toyota, and DHL.  There is a slight glitch to this plan. Neither Mark Miles nor Jay Frye have signed an agreement for this race. Indycar says there no plans in motion to hold this event.

Speculation about a race in Uruguay also has been discussed. I can’t envision two Indycar races in South America in a season. They would have to be run either on consecutive weekends, or within a span of three weeks.  That is a long time away from home for all involved. Compensation needs to be well worth everyone’s effort.

My guess – one of the two is likely, no earlier than 2020. Waiting until 2021 and the new engine and possibly chassis package might be a better idea.

Title Sponsor?

Still no word on a title sponsor for Indycar.  I was hoping we would know something by Thanksgiving, but that may be optimistic.