INDIANAPOLIS – As a young kid, Zach Veach always told his dad, Roger, that one day he was going to race in the Indianapolis 500. “They kind of laughed at me because they thought in a month or two I’d change my mind and want to be an astronaut or something crazy like that.”
Zach was a determined kid who never let go of his dreams of driving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On the other hand, Roger let go of his. “My dad was a truck and tractor pulling national champion. I kept telling my dad that I wanted to race and it took a while for him to realize how serious I was about that. We were coming back from Macon, Missouri in 2006 where my dad had won the World Finals. An hour and a half from our home there’s a go-kart track called Circleville Raceway Park. So I looked at my dad and said, ‘If I don’t get started soon it’s going to be too late and I might never get to where I want to be in racing.”
By the following Monday, Roger sold all of his truck and tractor pulling equipment to help fund Zach’s dreams. It was at the race track they passed on their way home, where Zach got his start in go-karting. Coincidentally, about fifteen minutes from that track lived Dave Fisher, father of Sarah Fisher, nine-time Indianapolis 500 starter.
When asked about how he met Zach, he said, “He started running his go-kart at Circleville Raceway Park. The son of the owner called me and said, ‘Hey there’s a young kid,’ and apparently he saw that he [Zach] was determined. He said, ‘You need to come over here and help him.’” And Dave did just that. “I could see he was determined so I just hung out a little to see if there was anything there.”
From Zach’s perspective, he couldn’t quite grasp why this man had come to help him. “As we were practicing and preparing for the season, this old man kept coming up to my father and I just giving us a little bit of advice here and there because my dad really didn’t have any idea of what we were doing because it was so new compared to what he grew up doing.”
Before the first race of his go-karting season started, he had already worn out an engine from so many practice laps. That’s when Dave decided to step in and help Zach and his father. “He said he used to tune engines and he wanted to know if he could take a shot at building an engine for us. And we said sure because we didn’t know any better. We just knew this old man as Dave.”
That old man known as Dave turned out to be the father of IndyCar driver, Sarah Fisher and a former racer himself. From his start, Dave could see that Zach was not only determined, he was smart. “Having a racing daughter and racing myself, I knew that the most important quality was intelligence. In just the way that you tell someone something or talk about something, you can tell if a person’s smart or not, and he’s smart.”
Dave spent the early years of Zach’s career traveling with him and Roger from track to track, getting Zach the most amount of time driving as possible. There came a point in Zach’s career where he wasn’t seeing the types of results he was accustomed to having. In order to help Zach further in his career, Dave helped teach Zach not just how to be a better driver, but how to truly understand and communicate about his car. Dave said, “I like to think that I made him realize how important being able to describe what’s wrong with the car. When we would drive home from a race or a test, I would explain as best as I could what decisions were made and why we made the decisions. Even while he’d still be sitting in the car, I’d talk.”
Zach’s knowledge helped him to get where he is today and Dave is more than proud to have been a part of his journey to his first Indianapolis 500 and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Dave is honored to be a part of AJ Foyt Racing for the Month of May.
“I think it’s an honor to work for such a guy as A.J. Foyt and get to talk and learn from him. I’m just help here though. Andy O’Gara (Zach’s crew chief and Dave’s son-in-law) is doing all the work. He [Zach] is in good hands with Andy.”
It’s going to be a long charge through the field for the rookie, but with the guidance of his engineers, pit crew, father, and Dave Fisher, Zach Veach will have a solid group working behind him not only on the track but off of it. Zach will race in his first Indianapolis 500 in the No. 40 IWiT Championship car.
The 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast on ABC-TV on Sunday, May 28 with coverage starting at 11 a.m. EDT.