Myles Rowe Just Became the First Black Driver to Win an Indycar Championship

Myles Rowe, #99 Pabst Racing with Force Indy, became the first Black driver to win an INDYCAR-sanctioned championship on Saturday, September 2, 2023. Rowe, 23, won the 2023 Cooper Tires USF PRO 2000 championship at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon, after starting the last race with a 64-point season lead. Rowe will compete in the INDY NXT by Firestone series in 2024 after winning the USF Pro 2000 championship.

Rowe has more wins (five), pole positions (four), fastest laps (three), and podium finishes (seven) than any of his competitors in the 2023 USF Pro 2000 series. Rowe finished second in last year’s USF 2000 Series Championship, just six points behind the champion. Myles Rowe, an Atlanta native, has been obsessed with racing since he was four years old. He previously won the 2018 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series.

“This year was a test to see what I’ve got,” said Myles Rowe. “And luckily, I was able to pull it off.”

Rod Reid, a Black Indianapolis business leader and team co-owner, and Roger Penske, the owner of the most successful racing organization in history, announced the formation of the USF2000 race team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on December 3rd, 2020, as part of the Race for Equality & Change diversity initiative. Rowe became the first Black driver to win an INDYCAR-sanctioned race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship on August 29, 2021.

“When I first envisioned the Force Indy team, I saw it as a pipeline to create opportunities for black and brown talent. An opportunity to change the face of motorsports,” said Force Indy Team Principal and Co-owner Rod Reid. “I never imagined winning a championship nearly two years to the day we won our first race.”

Force Indy honors this historic occasion by focusing on building a program that generates possibilities for people of color across the INDYCAR paddock, including drivers, crew members, and others. Force Indy’s mission is to create as many doors as possible for diverse representation and leadership in the world of motorsports. Force Indy was established as part of Penske Entertainment’s Race for Equality & Change program, which was launched in July 2020 with the goal of bringing about significant change in the motorsports industry.

This championship victory in the #99 car continues Force Indy’s tribute to Dewey “Rajo Jack” Gatson, the black racer who was denied admittance to the Indy 500 in the 1930s and 1940s. Rowe drove the red rear-winged USFPro2000 car to victory in honor of the Tuskegee Airman’s Red-Tailed 99th Squadron.

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