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VEACH: Fun in Starting Over

Vasser Sullivan Lexus driver Zach Veach describes his transition to sports car racing…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

There’s a lot of fun in starting over. That’s been a common trend for my 26th year of life.

Following the open-wheel path here in America for the last 14 years, it’s been a very consistent acceleration in one direction for me.

Particularly with one set of rules and refining the driving style of lightweight cars with a lot of downforce. For me, it’s been a long time since driving was a completely new subject to learn.

In open-wheel, you put a lap together with all out aggression and full commitment, absolutely abusing the corners with thousands of pounds of downforce and wide rear tires.

It’s a style of driving that doesn’t reward you at all in GT3 racing and a lesson I learned very quickly the first time I had a roof over my head at Daytona.

As I came to this realization, a wave of excitement took over because in front of me laid a completely new challenge, one of which is adapting to a whole new style of racing, with the opportunity to grow as a driver.

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

With the increased weight, smaller tire and lack of downforce, every single input you put into the car is magnified x10.

You have to be very disciplined in being as smooth as possible with your inputs, from how you turn in, release the brake and especially how you get back to throttle.

In general, it just takes a little longer for things to happen and because of that, your influence on the car is so much bigger than in open wheel.

It rewards the methodical driver, who can get the absolute most out of the car without stepping over that very fine line of over driving it.

For example, a small slide in IndyCar would cost you one or two tenths. That same slide in a sports car seems to cost you four or five-tenths. It’s the ultimate display of self-control and balance.

On top of all the driving differences I really enjoyed getting to learn, there’s this whole new team dynamic of sharing a race car with your teammate.

This sense of camaraderie has seriously been something I’ve always searched for in motorsports and haven’t been able to find until now. I’ve had such a fun time working with Frankie Montecalvo towards a common goal and leaning on each other to accomplish that.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

With us finishing second at Mid-Ohio, my very first podium in IMSA, I feel we have really started to come together as a pairing and I’m so excited for the rest of the season.

As I write this, there’s still so much for me to learn behind the wheel of my Lexus RC F GT3, but for my progress up to this point, I owe a lot of credit to Jack Hawksworth.

With six years of experience, Jack is a master in our Lexus race cars and one of the hardest working drivers I’ve spent time with.

His work ethic is contagious. He’s been as much of a driving coach for me as a teammate while I make this transition in my career, the same transition he made from IndyCar six years ago.

I’ll forever be grateful for this opportunity Jimmy and Sulli have given me, and of course all the support Lexus and the entire Vasser Sullivan team has given me as I feel like I’ve found a home here in IMSA.

It’s a type of racing that has given me the same excitement as when I first sat in a kart 14 years ago. There’s so much I want to accomplish in this series and I’m thankful to have the people around me that I want to do it with. On to Detroit.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Zach Veach is a former open-wheel ace turned sports car racing driver, competing in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS in the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 alongside Luca Mars.

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