Less than two weeks ago, Megennis and the Team Pelfrey crew wheeled the No. 80 Palo Alto Networks machine to a top-five finish on the streets of Toronto in Round 10 & 11 of Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship. Following the solid result at Toronto, the team is determined to put the yellow machine back on the podium for the second time this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. We were able to catch up with the 17-year-old as the team heads to Mid-Ohio for the next rounds of the championship.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in racing?
“My advice would be to always try your hardest and always have fun. What more can you do? There are so many outside factors in racing: the car, other competitors, weather, etc. You can only control what you can control, and that's yourself. Sometimes I find drivers get so serious and get so focused on winning and results, that it sucks all the fun out of the sport. We have to remember that we're doing this because we enjoy it. If you always remember to do your absolute best, and you're always enjoying yourself, then you're bound to improve and do well.”
In your opinion, are ovals or road courses more physically demanding?
“I'd say ovals are more physically demanding, especially in these USF2000 cars. The constant G-Forces and load on your body gets super tiring. At Iowa Speedway, we had an average speed of 131 mph! We only reach those speeds at the end of long straights in our cars! Plus, on ovals you're always turning left. That puts a lot of strain on one side of your body.”
What are your hobbies outside of racing?
“I love fencing! I'm a really competitive fencer. When I'm not racing, I spend a lot of time practicing and competing with my swords.”
Who is your racing idol?
“Lewis Hamilton has always been my racing idol. He's so talented, and he's one of the best drivers in the world. Plus, I gotta support my fellow Brits!”
What is the most challenging part about being on the Mazda Road to Indy, and how do you overcome that challenge?
“The Mazda Road to Indy is one of the best series in the world and it challenges me in all aspects. That's what I find so special about this series. You have fast cars and you need to have a good setup to do well. You have one of the most competitive fields of any series in the world. You have interviews, autograph sessions, driver meetings, dinners, guests, and sponsorship obligations. You have to learn how to manage all of these responsibilities outside of the racecar. The Mazda Road to Indy really forces drivers to become well-rounded. Managing myself and improving as a driver is what I've found most difficult. It’s important to have the all-around package, you can’t just be fast or really good at interviews.”
What is your most memorable moment in your racing career?
“I'll never forget my first ever USF2000 win at St. Pete at the beginning of this season. I feel that all the hard work that I'd put in from when I first started karting showed itself. It was a long time coming, and it's just so gratifying to beat every other driver out there. What a day.”