Myles Rowe Knows He Needs to Be Seen

Motorsports A-Z: Myles Rowe, ‘F’ is for future.

Animation by Andrew Boyle

In 2021, Myles Rowe became the first Black driver to win an IndyCar-sanctioned event. That’s 110 years after the first Indianapolis 500 was held. Roger Penske chose the 22-year-old Atlanta native and recent Pace University graduate to lead his Race for Equality and Change initiative. With adequate amounts of faith, skill, luck, and sponsorship, Rowe is on the cusp of becoming the first Black driver to win a championship in the Road to Indy ladder system.

This story originally appeared in Volume 13 of Road & Track.

Road & Track: We don’t have many Myles Rowes in racing, much less open-wheel cars. Talk about chasing your personal dreams while representing the underrepresented.

Myles Rowe: I was out of racing for five years, and getting the call from Mr. Penske was definitely something I did not quite expect. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given, and I always believed this success would happen if I had the chance. This is setting me up to have a bright future in this sport if I can continue winning. The people who look like me, the African Americans out there, Black individuals in America, they need to see someone who looks like them in this industry. I’ve actually been amazed by how many people come up to me, even though I’m just at the start of my career, and say they follow me and that I’m representing them. It’s a pleasure to be doing that and with the success we’ve been having. It matters, because there are very few of us out there right now.

R&T: You’re not the Black driver in the USF2000 Championship, you’re the driver who’s won five races this season [at press time] and leads the drivers’ standings who also happens to be Black. Big difference, right?

MR: It’s definitely cool to be proving those notions wrong. It really humbles me because I realize how rare it is to be in the spot that I’m in. I’ve had people tell me the only reason I’m here is to bring diversity to open-wheel racing, and you know, I can’t argue that this is what got me here in the first place with the Race for Equality and Change program. But I think my results have quieted those voices down a lot. I’m here because I perform.

[Editor’s Note: Rowe was pipped at the final race of the season for the championship title in September, ending up a mere six points behind Michael d’Orlando.]

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R&T: Bearing the weight of hopes and expectations for an entire culture is a type of pressure that your rivals wouldn’t know or need to manage in their young careers.

MR: I definitely was thrown into the fire, but my family and my team do a great job of keeping me in the right headspace because it can be a lot. Meditation is important to me; I’m big on being centered. If you let all the thoughts of representing an entire culture become heavy on you like a burden, there’s no way you could drive. So I look at the positive side, and it gives me energy to keep going and to keep getting better. The group of people that I’m representing and the culture that I’m representing is something I’m trying to make bigger. It just pushes me, and I can’t let any distractions get in my way.

R&T: You’re someone IndyCar drivers and team owners root for. And they never care about the kids starting out. Is the added attention helpful or harmful?

MR: Oh no, it’s incredible. I tried for years to get here, but racing is expensive, and we didn’t have the funds to do this. But now that I’m here and I can just drive without always worrying about if the money was going to run out, I think I’m showing that I belong. All the sweet things they say is acknowledgment that they see I can drive, and that’s what they value. As an African American, that means a lot to know that people I respect also respect me first as a driver and whatever else I am, and all the other things I can bring culturally is an added bonus.

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