One thing I've learned about racing is, although it's a serious sport, it's also about having fun. The people on your team and the people you see every weekend are like your one big family away from home.
My USF2000 teammate from last year – and practically my brother – Sage Karam, came over to Ohio for two weeks after his win at Iowa to train with me, and just to have some fun away from the racetrack. We might have even chased a girl or two. For two straight weeks we trained, raced nitro-powered RC cars, and even attempted a 12-hour endurance race on the simulator.
Anytime you get the two of us together, we're always racing something trying to find out who the fastest is, and that builds a great team! As we raced the RC cars more and more, we both caught the RC car racing bug and are trying to figure out some national events we can race at, once we get a little more experience under our belts – any suggestions?
The thing that I like about racing my 1/8-scale nitro buggy the most is, you tune the car sort of the same way as you can an IndyCar. You can adjust the ride height, camber, castor, gearing, tires, etc., even the downforce levels.
In my time off, I also had the opportunity to test a USAC midget at Columbus Motor Speedway with Dave Fisher, the guy who taught me how to drive karts and even RC cars. I've known Dave for a number of years after meeting him at the local kart track and eventually learning he was Sarah Fisher's dad!
After my first 10-lap stent in the midget, the only word I could really say was “wow.” I really liked having to drive the car with the throttle, and it's a pretty neat feeling of having to squeeze on the power exiting T2 and T4 so you don't spin the tires down the straightaway.
There was a lot to learn with the midget, especially entering the corner. With a rear-engine car, you want to be nice and smooth keeping the car stable on entry. With the midget, your always pushing to get a little entry drift to carry in as much speed as possible. Once the car hooks back up, it's all about being easy on the throttle, driving the car off the corner and down the straight – what a great experience!
I have to say, I'm ready to be back in my green and white Zakosi Data Backup Mazda this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At Milwaukee, we made up some ground in the championship, moving up to second place, and first isn't out of reach anymore. With six races left, the team and I are working really hard to stay up front and finish the season on the top step. But with the completion in this year's USF2000 season, that wont be an easy task! Still, we are definitely up for the challenge!
No matter what you're driving – RC cars, karts, midgets, or an IndyCar – all the principles are the same, and everything you learn from all the different types of racing will help you in your pursuit of being a racecar driver. Just look at the legends like Mario Andretti – he was always driving something and if you remember to have a little fun along the way, the experience will be that much better!
USF2000 National Championship driver Zach Veach drives the Andretti Autosport No. 7 Zakosi Data Backup/Mazda. For more on Zach, go to www.zachveach.com.