courtesy of BRANDed Management
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 11, 2012) – Standing out when there are over 50 rising open-wheel stars testing let alone competing for attention when up against the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be next to impossible for most drivers. Zach Veach isn’t most drivers. The 17-year-old Andretti Autosport K12-sponsored athlete topped the speed charts both days during the open test and set a new track record in the Firestone Indy Lights Series at the famed Brickyard.
“I honestly can’t believe we came here and set the track record and were P1,” said Veach, who recorded 119 laps for Andretti Autosport over four practice sessions. “The guys at Andretti Autosport have been working so hard and have been a big help in getting me transitioned from the Star Mazda car to the Indy Lights Car. A lot of it is them. I just have the fun job of driving it. I can’t thank K12 and all my partners enough for all the support and again, I’m just really happy with the progress we’ve made here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
There was a time in Veach’s life where he didn’t know if he’d even get the opportunity test out the waters for a career in professional autoracing. As a toddler, he pretended he was racing his idol Michael Andretti in the Indy 500 while playing with toy Hot Wheels diecast cars in his Ohio bedroom. In school, Veach was bullied for his interest and attention he put towards racing and while it didn’t qualify as a “traditional” sport, Veach soldered on using the heartache as fuel for his passion.
The now 12th-grade K12 high school student Veach, will be the first to tell you he envisioned being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway much sooner than this. In 2009 and part of 2010, Veach was part of a rigorous testing platform preparing the teen to become the youngest competitor ever in the 37-year history of the Atlantic Championship Series, long known as the starting point of many drivers including Danica Patrick, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser, Jr., and the former official feeder platform to the Champ Car World Series.
The youngster became accustomed to what it took to drive a bigger car with higher hoursepower. With the series eventually seizing operations due to lack of funding, Veach instead stepped into the Mazda Road to Indy. While jumping right into the Firestone Indy Lights car may have seemed more natural at the time, his young age and decision to take the right steps to the top of INDYCAR helped him focus instead on making a gradual transition to his ultimate goal of racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series and attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
In 2010, Veach ran a partial schedule in the USF2000 National Championship Series for Andretti Autosport, where he finished fifth in the overall driver championship points, despite starting the season two races behind the rest of the field. He returned to Andretti Autosport in 2011 and secured the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 Winterfest Championship, with two race wins and three pole positions. During the regular USF2000 season, he finished fourth, helping Andretti Autosport secure the team championship title for the second consecutive year with one win, five podiums and three pole positions.
In late 2011, Andretti Autosport rewarded Veach with two Star Mazda Championship starts in between his regular USF2000 duties and in only his second start in Star Mazda, recorded a podium result. He opened 2012 by using four race wins and four pole positions to capture the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear Winter Series championship, his second straight career winter series championship. Currently Veach competes full-time in Star Mazda and has eight top-10 finishes, three of which are top-five results including a runner-up finish on the Streets of Toronto.
The ESPN The Magazine-named “NEXT” athlete in motorsports, first tested an Indy Lights car in early August 2012 at Putnam Park Raceway and combined with one other private test, came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with little expectations but to gain laps and learn the anatomy of a different racecar. That turned into Veach setting the track record and topping the speed charts.
Veach then returned for day two of testing on Thurs., Oct 11 for two practice sessions, where the CNN-named “Intriguing” paced the field for much of the first session while trying out experimental brakes and ending the first session second on the timing charts.
“During the first session we had a bit more rear wing than I wanted but we were just trying some things out and the car still felt pretty good,” continued Veach.
During the second session of the day and final of the test, Veach again sat atop the charts while gaining valuable laps in the new car. During the final session, Veach even bested the newly set IMS track record he set the day prior. Overall, the rookie Indy Lights driver left what some call the most hallowed ground in worldwide motorsports, with a new track record and his car number atop the scoring pylon after pacing the overall two-day test, ahead of veteran drivers Mikail Grenier, 19, and Peter Dempsey, 26.
Following the Indy Lights test, Veach will close out the 2012 Star Mazda season with his final race at Road Atlanta as part of the 15th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda race weekend in Braselton, Georgia. Four practice sessions will preface the qualifying session set for Thurs., Oct 18 at 12:15 p.m. EDT followed by the race on Fri., Oct 19 at 3:45 p.m. EDT on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit.
What was once a dream and a target for bullies doesn’t seem so surprising that Veach’s rather active pace off the racetrack combating distracted driving and bullying is so close to his heart; his success on the racetrack just fuels his desire to keep working that much harder.
Veach’s racing efforts are supported by K12 with additional backing provided by: the Young Marines youth organization, Zakosi Data Backup, ADS IT Solutions, Replay XD, OMP, Oakley, and Arai Helmets. Further, Veach is represented by BRANDed Management.
About Zach Veach:
Zach “Ziggy” Veach is a 17-year-old autoracing driver who competes in INDYCAR’s ‘Mazda Road to Indy’ Star Mazda Championship Series, an important open-wheel stepping-stone to a career in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. In 2012, Veach captured the Formula Car Challenge Winter Series Championship and in 2011, he secured the USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship and was voted the “Most Popular Driver in USF2000”. Named by ESPN The Magazine as a NEXT athlete in motorsports, Veach keeps an active pace both on and off the race track. In 2010, Michael Andretti signed Veach to his team, Andretti Autosport, while also being named one of CNN’s “Intriguing People” and being nominated for the Sports Illustrated “Sports Kid of the Year award. In addition to his racing, Veach is an advocate for safer driving as the national spokesperson for FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using their cell phones and has campaigned for Oprah Winfrey’s “No Phone Zone.” Veach designed a phone application through his phone-app building company, ZaAPP, releasing urTXT, in the Marketplace for Android to help consumers avoid dangerous text messaging while driving. Like most of his peers, Veach was bullied as a kid and works to combat the growing epidemic as part of the Cyber Safety Academy’s “No BULL Challenge” as a key ambassador. Veach has been a guest or profiled on a variety of national platforms including NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s Headline News, ABCNews.com, Oprah Radio’s The Gayle King Show, The Los Angeles Times, AOL.com and is a blogger for RACER magazine and The Huffington Post. The son of a national truck and tractor-pulling champion, Veach is sponsored by K12, Zakosi Data Backup, the Young Marines youth organization, Replay XD, Arai Helmets, OMP, ADS IT Solutions, and artrotondo.com. He enters his senior year of high school this fall and released his first book, 99 THINGS TEENS WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE TURNING 16, in 2011. For more information, please visit www.ZachVeach.com.
About Andretti Autosport:
Based in Indianapolis and led by racing legend Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport fields multiple entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Andretti Autosport competes in Firestone Indy Lights, the Star Mazda Championship and in the USF2000 National Championship. The company boasts three IZOD IndyCar Series championships (2004, 2005 and 2007), two Firestone Indy Lights titles (2008 and 2009), one USF2000 championship (2010) and has won the Indianapolis 500 twice (2005 and 2007). For more information, please visit www.AndrettiAutosport.com.