Myles Rowe, #99 Pabst Racing with Force Indy, won his first major championship in American open-wheel racing at Portland International Raceway earlier this month. He became the first Black major American open-wheel racing champion.
The 23-year-old won six races out of a total of 17 throughout the season and earned a scholarship worth $664,500 as a result of his recent victory. This scholarship will help him advance to the Indy NXT series in 2024.
Rowe faced a difficult situation the previous year when his closest challenger, Brazilian Kiko Porto, earned first and second place in races. At the same time, Rowe finished fourth and sixth, reducing his point lead. Rowe needed to perform well and closely follow Porto in order to win the championship. Fortunately, his second and third-place results enabled him to win.
The racer’s path to the IndyCar Series began through Penske Entertainment Corp.’s Race for Equality and Change initiative. Rowe was able to obtain the support of Team Penske’s Force Indy Team in the USF2000 championship through this program. Rowe struggled in his debut year, 2021, but eventually won his first race near the season’s conclusion. This accomplishment made him the series’ first black driver to win a race.
Despite facing obstacles in the next season and losing sponsorship from Force Indy and Penske, Rowe was able to secure wins at St. Pete and Barber, resulting in a runner-up championship finish and an opportunity to compete in the USF Pro 2000 series this year.
According to the Triangle Tribune, the Atlanta native has been interested in racing since he was four years old. He previously won the 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series, which he entered to test his capabilities.
According to WIBC, Rowe is the third African-American driver to ever compete in IndyCar-sanctioned races, following in the footsteps of George Mack and Willy T. Ribbs.
Both Ribbs and Mack competed in the premier IndyCar series on a full-time basis. In 1994, Ribbs competed in CART for Walker Motorsports in his lone full-time season. In 2002, Mack competed for 310 Racing full-time in the Indy Racing League.
Neither driver has ever claimed victory in an event held under IndyCar-sanctioned competitions except for Rowe, marking the significance of this win.