Looking back on the month of May, it is definitely one that I will never forget. To start off, I was able to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time after dreaming of it as a kid and secondly, getting to finish a race I've been competing in since I was 4 years old.
You all might be wondering what race could you possibly have ran for the last 14 years? The race I am talking about is school. Honestly, for me, I find it hard to believe that it all has gone by so fast. I remember like it was yesterday, I was a 15-year-old sophomore in high school getting my chance to drive for Andretti Autosport in the Mazda Road to Indy.
Even before racing, my parents always stressed to me how important having a good education was. If I wanted to be able to ride my yard kart or play my racing games as a kid, I had to get good grades. Even when I started my first rookie Firestone Indy Lights season, the rules were the same; I had to work hard to get good grades to be able to do what I love because with having a great education the possibilities are endless for what you want to do in life.
That's some of the reason why I'm so fortunate to have a partnership with K12 Online Education. I was a fan of my K12 school, even before I thought of it as a potential partnership because it allows kids around the world achieve their dreams just like me. Being a high school graduate now has given me a different perspective but, like Mario Andretti told me, “You never stop learning.” My high school career is now over, but I still have a lot of learning in other places and I can't stress how excited I am to be able to put 100% of my full focus on training and racing now.
The Mazda Road to Indy has become my college courses on hopefully getting my degree to race in the IZOD IndyCar series one day. Each session I am able to learn more through videos and the data that will help me in the next race. Each track and race provides new obstacles for me to overcome and allows me to get stronger every day.
With that, I'm really looking forward to this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile. The team and I had a very successful test their last week, and gained a lot of valuable information for the race weekend. For us, it was like getting to see the test questions before we really have to take the test. The last time I had the opportunity to run at the Mile was in 2011. That weekend, I managed to get my very first oval pole and finished second in a USF2000 machine.
The track hasn't been repaved in a long time (except for the patches), so it's a pretty rough ride; you have to drive the car more aggressively on the entry and then be as gentle as possible on the throttle mid-corner to the exit to not upset the platform of the car. I think the Mile is the hardest oval I've driven at. To me, the hardest part overall, is racing here. Trying to find clean air is going to be very difficult and having no real banking really hurts us in many different places, so making sure we have a good racecar – and clean air – will be most important come race day.
I was able to take a lot away with me at our test there. My engineer and I have been on Skype a couple times this past week going over our plan for the weekend and now it's just about working out the details. As always, the Andretti Autosport guys have giving me a great car and I can't wait to get on track with it Thursday. We still have a lot more leaning to do throughout the rest of the year, but I feel really good about this weekend – we'll be giving it our all!
I'd like to thank K12, The Young Marines, ADS IT Solutions, Zakosi Data Backup, Replay XD, Andretti Autosport, and most of all my dad for making all of this possible. With our race being just one day before Father's day, I'd love to be able to celebrate our first Firestone Indy Lights win with my dad.
Firestone Indy Lights driver Zach Veach drives the Andretti Autosport No. 12 K12 machine. For more on Zach, go to www.zachveach.com.