Photo courtesy Zach VeachEnlarge Photo
Zach Veach, a 17-year-old racer from Stockdale, Ohio is moving up the ranks of the Mazda Road to Indy group of development series. After finishing fourth in the 2011 Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, Veach advances to the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear in 2012, continuing with Andretti Autosport.
Veach's Star Mazda entry is the No. 77 Team Zakosi Data Backup car. "We're always impressed with Zach and how he handles himself both on and off the track," said Michael Andretti, CEO, chairman and president of Andretti Autosport. "There is no doubt in my mind that he'll be successful again this year as he steps up to Star Mazda full-time."
As Andretti said, this is a full-time step for Veach, who in November drove his Star Mazda car to victory in the first two rounds of the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear Winter Series, held at Infineon Raceway Sears Point in Sonoma. Veach earned two pole positions and led every lap during the race weekend in his new mount. He raced to third place, a podium finish at the final Star Mazda race of the 2011 season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"I'm really excited to be racing in the Zakosi Data backup Star Mazda car this season, especially with Sage [Karam] as my teammate again," Veach said. "The time I was able to spend in the car earlier this winter gave me a chance to change my driving style to better suit the Star Mazda car, and I think with a bit more testing I'll be reedy to compete for the championship.
"I would like to thank Michael Andretti, Zakosi Data Backup, my family and the whole team that continues to support me," Veach continued. I can't wait to get on track!"
Veach in the USF2000 car - Photo courtesy Zach VeachEnlarge Photo
Away from the race track Veach is a spokesperson for FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers talking on their cell phones. He has campaigned for Oprah Winfrey's "No Phone Zone" and created an app to fight texting behind the wheel.
Last year, Veach released a book titled "99 Things Teens Wish They Knew Before Turning 16", sharing his battle with bullies, an effort that led to his campaign work for the Cyber Safety Academy's No BULL Challenge. As a slightly built young man, Veach has been a victim of bullying and works to combat the growing epidemic.
For his work both inside and out of a race car, ESPN The Magazine recently named Veach a "NEXT" athlete in motorsports; he's one of CNN's "Intriguing People" and has been nominated for Sports Illustrated's "Sports Kid of the Year" award.
Zach Veach's family has been involved in the racing game as his father is a national truck and tractor-pulling champion.
Prior to the start of the 2012 Star Mazda season, Veach will wrap his campaign for the Formula Car Challenge Winter Series title, heading into the final three events owning the points lead. The Winter Series concludes at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana next weekend, January 20-22.