Mar 20, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT
Indy Lights driver Zach Veach and the number 12 appear to be inextricably linked this year. The Stockdale, Ohio native is driving the No. 12 K12 entry for Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights, six years after he began his racing career at – you guessed it – age 12.
Some fast facts about one of the two American full-season rookies entered in Indy Lights:
- Zach & former teammate Sage Karam will become the first drivers to have competed at every level of the Mazda Road to Indy (USF2000, Star Mazda/Pro Mazda, Indy Lights)
- Zach set the unofficial track record at IMS this past fall in an Indy Lights car during the annual open test, becoming the youngest to hold a “record” at the track. Zach was P2 in the last open test at Homestead & Sebring. His teammate was P1 at both of the last two sessions.
- Won the 2012 Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear Winter Series championship, his second straight winter series championship following winning the USF2000 Winterfest Championship in 2011
- Won the Most Popular Driver Award in 2011 and 2012 in USF2000 and Star Mazda, respectively
- Listed as one of CNN’s most “Intriguing People” in 2010, while ESPN The Magazine named him NEXT in motorsports in 2011. Sports Illustrated followed in agreement in 2012, naming him a “Face in the Crowd”
- A published author, Zach released 99 THINGS TEENS WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE TURNING 16 in 2011 with an appearance on NBC’s The Today Show
- Off the track, Zach is an advocate against distracted driving and bullying prevention, having worked alongside Oprah Winfrey’s No Phone Zone campaign (He is also the national spokesperson for FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using their cell phones, in partnership with the Department of Transportation) and The Great American No BULL Challenge anti-bullying movement with Dr. Oz and his daughter Zoe
- Turned 18 this past December
- Driving the No 12 car for AA this season
- If not racing: would want to create video games
- Graduates from high school this May
- He was just named to Got Chocolate Milk’s Team Refuel. Say’s he’d drink Chocolate Milk if he won the Indy 500. Other notable athletes who are part of Got Chocolate Milk? are: Kurt Warner, Hines Ward, Chris Lieto, Carmelo Anthony, Dara Torres, and Apolo Ohno
“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to try and be a racecar driver,” said Veach. “My dad was a national truck and tractor pulling champion and that was kind of our focus but I kept bugging him that I wanted to race. I finally had the opportunity when I was 12. Dad had just won the national championship and decided it was time for me to have the opportunity to follow my dream too. So we sold all his stuff and bought a go-kart.
“We were definitely starting a little late but being behind the eight ball just made us work that much harder. Most guys are between 5 and 6 when they start racing so the first couple years for me, we were at the track from dusk till dawn just running until they kicked us out. We knew we had to play catch up and in only three short years in karting, I moved up to being in a car for Michael Andretti.”
The biggest thing that has aided Veach’s development is consistency with the same team. This marks his fourth straight season with Andretti Autosport.
“I’m very fortunately to be in my fourth season racing for Andretti Autosport,” he said. “In the auto racing business, most drivers tend to jump around a lot and to be staying with the same time is just awesome. The longer I’m with the team I just continue to build a better relationship with the crew guys and the team in general. The guys on my car are the guys that were there when I first signed with the team in 2010. It’s a really powerful environment and they know exactly what I mean when I say certain things worked or didn’t. I think we are all more aligned as opposed to starting with a new team each year and having to start all over again.”