Zach Veach – Good For Open Wheel Racing

Big Bend, WI (January 17, 2012) -Andretti Sports Marketing came into town Tuesday to kickoff their 2013 Milwaukee IndyFest details at the fashionable downtown Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Michael Andretti headed a trio of drivers from Andretti Autosport that included reigning IndyCar Champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pro Mazda championship driver, Shelby Blackstock but the driver who attracted my attention was up and coming American driver, Zach Veach.

The 18 year-old driver from Stockdale, Ohio is a former karting champion, but then again, who at this level isn’t? What grabs your attention is not only his impressive racing resume but also his genuine likeable personality. The F-2000 Winterfest Champion has already written a book that had his its initial release on NBC’s Today’s Show, in 2011 was one of CNN’s “Intriguing People,” and is buddies with music superstar, Justin Bieber. You can say he’s got a lot of things going for him. At a bit over five feet and just over seven stone Zach isn’t ready to play linebacker, but he can pedal a car around the track and as his boss Michael Andretti told me on Tuesday, ‘he’s fast in every car he drives.’

I had the opportunity to interview Zach at the IndyFest kickoff luncheon.

SZ: So you’re making the big jump to Indy Lights this year, how is that going so far?

Zach Veach: “So far we’ve been testing at Putnam Park and at the Indianapolis road course so far and a little track outside of Houston, Texas. It’s been going real well actually we were only a tenth off the track record at Putnam and set the unofficial track record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at a test in December. So far we’ve been close to flawless and my teammate there Carlos (Munoz) won a few races last year. Progression-wise it’s been going way further than expected. I’m really excited to see what we’re going to achieve in March.”

SZ: What’s the biggest change with this car?

Zach Veach: “The biggest change is definitely more horsepower and downforce and we have a lot more tire (than Pro Mazda). It’s such a heavy car that it doesn’t like to be sideways much so you really have to work with it, kind of want to know what the car wants to and think about where you want to head. It’s just a whole new level of respect because this car will definitely bite you if you’re not on top of it.”

SZ: Do you have to stay on top of it chassis wise and are you learning making adjustments?

Zach Veach: “Yes chassis and the mechanical side of it as well but also the physically as well because if you take your focus off this car for one second it seems where you’re going another 50-miles an hour faster, speeding at 190-mph mistakes happens so much quicker so it becomes really a problem making sure you stay focused. You’re doing every little thing you can do right so you can get the car home.”

SZ: What was the most fun thing you did in the off season?

Zach Veach: “I’ve been doing a lot of training, it’s going to be a big physical year for us because the Lights car is so big and heavy. I did a lot of rock climbing and I’m expecting a new puppy in the next couple of weeks. (What kind?) A Burmese mountain dog. They were always my favorite breed they’re kind of like miniature people, I’m just real excited to get her. I actually named her “Indiana.” I think she’ll fit into racing.”

Zach is what’s right in open wheel racing. He’s an American kid who loves open wheel racing and wants to win the Indianapolis 500. He’s a fast driver, great personality with good marketing behind him and on a good team in front. This season in Indy Lights is the final stepping stone for Veach which puts him one season presumably outside of the IZOD IndyCar Series and a shot at attempting to qualify for the Indy 500 as early as 2014 as a 19-year-old. He’s got what every team and sponsor could want. One more item, he’s even got a blog on the Huffington Post.
He wrote his goals for 2013.

That challenge leaves me no reason to fret on what’s ahead of leave me scared to have lofty goals and be committed to achieving them. So, with that, some of my goals for 2013 are:

• Finishing in the top 5 in the Indy Lights championship at the end of the season.

• On a personal level, evolving to be a better driver, better spokesperson and all around better person and being open to those around me continuing to help me get better.

• On the training front, I’m still growing and I’ve been battling with gaining weight. I’d love to gain another 15 pounds by March and the start of the 2013 racing season.

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