Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach and Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves are too young to sit home during the holidays and wait for the embargo on IndyCar testing to break on January 8.
So the two friends packed their bags, grabbed their racing gear, snagged Indy Lights veteran Juan Piedrahita for an endurance drive, and stockpiled some snacks for a road trip from Indianapolis to Florida where they’ll compete in a World Karting Association event as New Year’s approaches.
“We got the invite to go down to the WKA ‘Ignite Dash at Daytona’ and get in one more race before the year is done,” Veach told RACER. “It’s hard to resist. If you think about it, I haven’t done a lot of racing this year, and Gabby’s in the same situation, so it’s a great tune-up for the year ahead with our teams.”
For Chaves, who will lead the Harding team on its full-time IndyCar debut in 2018, the chance to turn a few more laps was irresistible.
“It’s the racing bug, right, so you want to get out there any chance you get,” he said. “And what better way to go than to get back into karts?”
Compared to the workman-like flow of an IndyCar event, spending a couple of mellow days in Daytona Beach behind the wheel of karts – where everything started for most open-wheel racers – is a perfect way to usher in a new season.
“It’s not a perfect parallel to an open-wheel car, but what you do get is a lot of reaction and training because everything happens so much quicker in a kart,” Chaves added. “You have more time in a race car to prepare for corners and what’s ahead. In a kart, it keeps you sharp because there’s no time to think; it’s all about reacting. And really, it’s just a lot of fun. I pulled a couple of pranks on Zach and Juan already, so the trip’s already been worth it…”