Fans of the new Race for Equality & Change program created by Roger Penske were caught by surprise a few months ago when its Force Indy team announced it was leaving driver Myles Rowe and the USF2000 series behind after a single season.
Rowe, spotted by Team Penske’s Will Power and introduced to his boss as a bright prospect to help launch the new RE&C Force Indy effort, hadn’t raced open-wheel cars for four years when he got the nod to represent the USF2000 team run by Rod Reid.
Despite the college student’s rust, and a clear understanding he would need a few seasons on the Road To Indy to develop his skills, Rowe showed promise and progress throughout the year, capped by taking a thrilling win in the rain at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
But with the decision to exit the first step of the open-wheel ladder after Force Indy’s debut season and jump to the top step with Trans Am champion Ernie Francis Jr., Rowe’s been forced to start over, find a full budget to continue, and then find a new USF2000 team to continue his dream of reaching the NTT IndyCar Series.
With the start of the 2022 championship closing in, Rowe’s been busy chasing sponsors and trying to raise funding through a GoFundMe campaign.
“We’ve been working really hard to keep things going, but it’s been tough,” Rowe told RACER. “Pretty much all I do is prepare sponsorship decks, and we’ve had some great conversations with a lot of companies that would be interested, but with the late timing of things, they have committed their marketing budgets already for next year.
“I’m reaching out to everybody I know to ask if they can connect me with their networks to see what could be possible, but there’s no opportunities available at the moment. We’ve been pretty fortunate with the GoFundMe; one person stepped in and got us almost halfway to our budget goal, but that’s slowed down afterwards, so we’re continuing the fight to get all the way there.”
With his Road To Indy future in limbo, Rowe was recently invited by Bryan Herta to race one of his factory Hyundai touring cars at an endurance event held at Circuit of The Americas.
“It was super-fun, and I have to thank Mr. Herta for the opportunity,” said the 21-year-old from Georgia. “The only endurance racing I had done was in karting, so I thought it was going to be totally different, but actually, it was really good and I didn’t have any trouble being in the car for long periods. I really enjoyed being in the car that long, actually, and I got to start the events, which was really cool, going into Turn 1 with 90 cars was something I’ve never seen before. It was just crazy
“But I loved like learning things about how to save the brakes, having to go fast but save fuel, learning to manage the car. It was a nice surprise to get the invitation to drive, and I came away with a lot of new knowledge.”
Heading into the holidays, Rowe hopes to find enough support to complete the other half of his budgetary needs before all of the best USF2000 seats are taken.
“We’ve been talking to some great teams and I’ve made a really good relationships with them,” he said. “But since they’re really good, the seats fill up fast. So it’s kind of a race for me to get something together to bring them before all the cars are gone because we’re not the only ones who want to be with them. That’s really the only hope we have right now.”