He's written a book — "99 Things Teens Wish They Knew Before Turning 16" — dealing with serious subjects like bullying, sex and peer pressure.

He's spoken to the Minnesota state legislature, inspiring it to pass legislation against texting while driving, and developed a cell phone application to fight texting behind the wheel.


He's appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN and numerous other news and entertainment shows.

And by age 16, "he's been on more programs than I have," his car owner, Michael Andretti, said.

Zach Veach really might be 16 going on 40.

Veach drives for Andretti in the USF2000 racing series in the Road to Indy developmental ladder system, which is holding two races twice here during the Baltimore Grand Prix. Veach crashed on the first lap of Saturday's USF2000 race, but he's expected to be back on the track for Sunday's second race.

When meeting Zach , your immediate impression is that you're about to talk to a 12-year-old. But don't be fooled: Veach is mature beyond his years.

"In the beginning, I was a bit unsettled when I met Zach," said Veach's engineer, Scott Graves. "I was used to working with older, experienced drivers. But here he was and he looked much younger than his age. But now, I think of him as a race-car driver. I don't think of him as a child. He doesn't act like a child."

Veach, it turns out, is one of those rare young people who seem to have skipped childhood — except for that sleepless night before he met his favorite race car driver, Andretti, who had just given him a ride in the USF 2000 Series.

"He said, 'Hi, Zach. I've heard a lot about you.' I was speechless," Veach said. "I'd just turned 15. I didn't know what to say."

When he turned 11, the Stockdale, Ohio, native told his father he wanted to be a race-car driver, and Roger Veach, amazingly, believed him.

Roger Veach owns an information technology firm. His passion growing up was tractor- and truck-pulling competitions. But he couldn't follow his dream until he grew up, became a successful businessman and could afford to buy his equipment. Once he did, Roger Veach became a multiple national champion in the sports he loved.

So Roger recognized where his son was coming from when he expressed a desire to race.

"Zach was so passionate," Roger Veach said. "He looked at me so seriously and said, 'Other kids are starting at 5. I'll soon be too old.' I had sponsorship with Shell in 2006, and we were ready to renew. It was about that time that Zach came to me and said he wanted to be a race-car driver."

Roger Veach did not renew the sponsorship, instead deciding to sell all of his equipment.

He then went out and bought a go-kart so his son could go racing.


When asked how he could do all that for an 11-year-old who might walk in the next day and say he wanted to be a firefighter, Roger Veach smiled.

"Zach's always been mature for his age," he said. "A kind of an old soul. Always very serious. My older son is a fireman."

Eventually, Andretti heard about Veach. It didn't surprise him that Veach's father would give up his favorite things to help his son.

"People don't realize what it takes to make it in this business," Andretti said. "Danica Patrick's dad mortgaged his house. It takes that kind of commitment early on to get ahead. In this case, Zach is a PR machine. The kid is unbelievable. He's amazing and on top of it he's down-to-earth, well grounded and a pleasure to be around. He doesn't have a ton of experience because he started go-karts late, but he's a quick learner, he's on the right path and we think we're going to see a lot more out of him in the future."

Backing up his words, Andretti announced Aug. 18 that he was rewarding Veach for his performances this season — he has one win and eight top-5 finishes, putting him in third place in USF2000 points standings — by adding him to the team's Star Mazda lineup at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca, Calif.

The Star Mazda Series is the next step up in the Road to Indy ladder program.

"He's ready to move up," Veach's mechanic, Ron Weaver, said. "He's mature enough, talented enough. He's not perfect, but he has learned enough to get in a more powerful car.

"He isn't the typical rich kid.He works incredibly hard. He actually works harder than a lot of grownups and does it better than 40-year-olds on our own team. This industry seems to attract people who are somewhat flaky. He's not like that. His work ethic is remarkable for his age."

Veach has also taken a particular interest in driver safety. Before he was even old enough to have his own driver's license, he was named the "spokeskid" of Oprah Winfrey's campaign against texting while driving.

He also developed an Android app called urTXT, which automatically responds to text messages a user receives while driving with a message saying that person will reply when off the road.

It's just one way Veach has shown his appreciation for the opportunity he's been given.

"My dad sold everything so I could follow my dream," said Veach, who attends high school online and will turn 17 in December. "Without my dad I wouldn't be where I am today. I feet extremely appreciative. He basically sold everything he'd worked his entire life for. It pushed me forward, because I knew what my dad did for me."