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BIO BLAST NAME Zach Veach AGE 16 HOMETOWN Stockdale, Ohio FAME CLAIM 2011 USF2000 Winterfest champ; currently third in USF2000 National Championship standings

When you LOOK LIKE YOU’RE 13,

promote Veach to also compete in Star

people are reluctant to think you can drive

Mazda for the final two races of the

a car. Then Zach Veach (who’s actually 16)

series, meaning a move to Indy Lights

flashes his license and says he’s a race car

may come sooner than expected.

driver climbing the development ladder to the Izod IndyCar Series. Sure, kid, good one. But don’t wait for

turn a wheel that’s like torquing a

As one accomplished veteran driver will

25-pound dumbbell at eye level without

attest, Veach’s ability behind the wheel

the benefit of power steering. “That just

is years ahead of his racing peers.

makes me work harder every day. Ever

“Speed is something you can’t teach,”

since I was playing with Hot Wheels, I’ve

says Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti

dreamed of racing in the Indy 500.” all the 11th-grade honor student has on

watching him dominate lower-level

his mind. In addition to Veach’s daily

circuits. “And Zach had it right away.”

regimen—a two-hour morning workout,

15 miles from the Kentucky border,

48

ESPN The Magazine

September 19, 2011

online school courses and afternoon sessions on a race simulator—he found

Veach is one of the early test cases for

time to pen a book, 99 Things Teens

the Indy Racing League’s two-year-old

Wish They Knew Before Turning 16, and

feeder system, which includes the

start a company, ZaAPP, developing an

USF2000 National Championship, Star

Android app to deter teens from texting

Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy

while driving.

Lights. He’s on track to reach the majors

He’s so congenial and well-spoken

before his 19th birthday—a fast ascent

that Andretti has dubbed him a “little PR

considering his father, Roger, a

machine,” and that’s precisely what the

truck-and tractor-pull champion, didn’t

IRL hopes to create in its rising stars: a

allow him behind the wheel until he was

better driver and a more marketable

12. Most hopefuls are in go-karts by age 4.

young name. “To have credibility, we have

Despite the eight-year delayed start,

By LaRue Cook

But holding that bottle of milk is not

champ, who signed Veach in 2010 after

A native of rural Stockdale, Ohio, located

ZACH VEACH IS MAKING WAVES IN INDYCAR’S MINOR LEAGUES, BUT THIS Teenager iS MUCH MORE THAN A GEARHEAD.

the 5'2", 95-pound Veach, who’s able to

the punch line, because it’s not coming.

Autosport and a former open-wheel

QUICK STUDY

“I’ve been one of the smallest guys for my age out there since I started,” says

to create the best of the best at the

missing the first two races of 2010 while

bottom,” says league CEO Randy Bernard,

waiting for a team to pick him up and

who is banking on future talent to soften

competing alongside drivers as old as

the blow of losing his most recognizable

20, Veach managed to finish fifth in the

driver, Danica Patrick, to NASCAR next

USF2000 standings as a 15-year-old. He

season. “Without them, we can’t claim to

rode that momentum to a title in the

have the pinnacle of racing at the top.”

short winter portion of the circuit and

Veach may well be the first of those

held a top-three spot as the series

future IndyCar stars. But in the interim,

entered its finale at the Streets of

watch out for him on the highway. After

Baltimore over this Labor Day weekend.

all, he did just get his license eight

The success prompted Andretti to

months ago. No joke.

Photograph by Greg Ruffing


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