Interview: Zach Veach

In another installment of what I like to call "The Fast Five," it is my privilege and honor to bring you an interview I recently did with Indy Lights veteran Zach Veach! Zach is a 19 year old from Stockdale, Ohio who made his Mazda Road to Indy entrance in 2010, driving for Andretti Autosport in the US F2000 series. Ever since then, it's only gone up for Zach. He and Andretti Autosport formed a great bond that led them to the Indy Lights series. A terrific young talent that will surely make it to Indycar someday, I would like to present my interview with Zach Veach (answers listed as ZV):

1) Congrats on finishing your second season of Indy Lights! You finished third in the championship this year, 27 points back of Champion Gabby Chaves. Describe how your season went from your point of view. 

ZV: Thank you so much, I mean overall we have a lot to be proud about. In a way this was our breakthrough year and I was able to start competing at a level I always wanted too by improvements on myself, mentally and physically. I'm heartbroken for my team we missed out on winning the championship, but my Andretti crew did and incredible job for me all season and I'm very thankful for that.

2) If the financial part of business was taken care of, would you be ready to make the jump to Indycar based solely on your driving ability and an interested owner? 

ZV: If I had the opportunity to, yes, the team and I both believe so; I’d love to make the jump up to the Verizon INDYCAR series. It’s something we’ve talked a lot about with the team the past few weeks, but for us the limitation right now is trying to find the funding to climb the final step on the ladder. If the opportunity doesn’t arise for us to make the step up, another season of Indy Lights wouldn’t be a bad thing starting over with the new car.

As of right now we are focused on and working hard to put together budget for at least a partial INDYCAR season with Andretti Autosport.

Photo from Zach Veach's website

3) What does it mean to drive for an owner like Michael Andretti? 

ZV: It’s truly an honor to say the least. I’ll be forever grateful towards Michael for believing in me from day one and for the impact he has had on my career. I’ve spent 5 seasons with Andretti Autosport and the team has really become my family, from Michael to everyone else at the shop. It’s a place I’d like to spend my entire career at if I’m lucky enough.

4) What do you think of the former Indy Lights chassis? Positives and negatives of the chassis? Is the new chassis going to be a welcomed change to Indy Lights in 2015? 

ZV: I thought the former Indy Lights chassis was an incredible car, she might have been old and a little rough around the edges but the car had a ton of character. The positives were,the car was very safe, the thing weighed a ton so it really put the driver into good shape, and it was a hard car to get time out of. You really had to study to prefect it and get poles and wins. The biggest negative to me for it was it’s age. No pit lane speed limiter, no paddle shift, and no push to pass. Driving it really made you feel like you were going back in time a little but I’m always going to be a fan of that big V8 engine it had in it.

I learned more about driving a race car in my two seasons of Indy Lights than any other step on the ladder, and I’m sure the new car will prove to be as good if not better at training drivers.

Zach Veach 2014 Indy Lights Barber
Zach Veach in the car he drove in 2014 (Photo: Indycar Media)

5) The staple question of the Fast Five Series is meant to show a lighter side of a driver. Have you ever done anything obscure behind the wheel of a race car, like sneeze, cough, sing, etc.?! 

ZV: Oh wow this is a good one… Now I just have to think of something that isn’t too embarrassing. I’ve sung in my head before, but I think that’s pretty common. The worst is when I have the series onboard camera on my car and there are those huge TV’s all over the track. Because I look at them from time to time on the straights and when I see that it’s my onboard footage being played on the screen, I get all excited and want to wave to myself…

Thanks to Zach for taking some time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with me! Let us both know what your comments are!

-Matthew Hickey