At the young age of 15, Zach Nicholson of Ossipee, New Hampshire is continuing to surprise everyone as he rises to the top of the Wildcat division at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. As a lot of drivers do, Zach made his start at Beech Ridge in the “Whiz Kids” division at the speedway, a division where kids between the ages of 8-15 race expedition races before the NASCAR Nite competition begins on Saturday nights. This non-points division allows kids to get a feel of the racetrack and their cars before stepping into a competitive division at the speedway. Although he’s new to the Wildcat division and fresh out of the Whiz Kids, Zach Nicholson is wise beyond his years.
Zach continues to impress fans and fellow competitors each and every week, continuously being a top-5 contender every Saturday night of competition. Earlier this season, he even received his first checkered flag on NASCAR Nite; his prize for winning a qualifying heat race. Although he’s the youngest contender in his series, he continues to compete with Beech Ridge greats like Lewis Anderson; of who he personally idolizes and looks to for advice. Zach jokes that it’s a family atmosphere in the pits, but “All bets are off when we put on our helmets.” In terms of NASCAR drivers that he looks up to, Zach likes watching Ryan Blaney, another young gun, continuously prove himself among veterans of the sport. He also says that’s part of the reason why his number is 21 on his car, but it’s “…more or less because I couldn’t get my number.” His previous car number is 22, so 21 is the closest that he could get. In addition to looking up to other drivers from all levels of the sport, Zach draws influence from his family and friends.
As I stood in the pits talking to Zach, I noticed a large group of his family and friends sitting by his car trailer; all of which were wearing his signature 21 shirt. It was clear, just by walking up to his pit box, that he has a large support system backing him each and every week. “There’s a lot of people that help me out here, so it’s really cool.” he explained, telling me that he draws a lot of inspiration from his uncle, who’s a fellow driver. His mom, dad, sister, a handful of cousins and fellow competitors, like Thursday Night Thunder Competitor Chris Case, are all at his side week in & week out, fully supporting his journey. Zach’s family and friends help him maintain level-headed and focused on his goals, both on the racetrack and in life in general.
Of his big goals this season, Zach says that he obviously wants to win a race. “I can win a heat race, but I think it’s time for me to win a big race.” he says, further explaining that another major goal of his is to finish in the top 5 in points at the conclusion of the season; something that will allow him to stand on the same stage as the drivers that he’s watched for years and years at the speedway. Zach has big goals for his future as well; goals that include attending the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) for High Performance Motorsports, a college of which he’s already received a scholarship for. He plans on graduating high school early and heading to UNOH, where he will enroll in their 33-month program. He says that he still wants to race in the summer months, but he ultimately wants to end up in Charlotte, North Carolina working in a race shop. At an age where teens have no idea of where they’re headed or why, Zach seems to have laser focus on where he’s headed in life, which is incredibly impressive. Although he possesses the maturity and ability to race with men decades older than him, Zach is still a kid at at the end of the day.
Zach explains that he loves spending time with his friends and enjoying other sports and activities outside of racing. “I’m actually going to start playing on a men’s softball team.” he tells me after explaining his passion for baseball and how he played the sport at a young age. Even when he’s not in a race car, racing is always in the back of his mind. He races a vintage snowmobile during the winter; still fulfilling his need for speed. He explains that he doesn’t race snowmobiles to be competitive. Rather, he just does it to have fun with his friends. He’s got the mindset of a winner, but Zach is well aware that winning isn’t everything.
He says that the best piece of racing advice he’s ever received came from his uncle. “It doesn’t matter where you finish, as long as you finish.” was his advice. He says that it’s cool to know that no matter where he finishes, he’s still going to have a great support system surrounding him. He also says that his DNF hurt him a little bit, but he’s always looking forward and looking to improve on the race track. Zach’s strong, respectable and open mentality makes for a winning combination, which is something that he’s continuously proving every week at Beech Ridge as he showcases strength among seasoned veterans in his division.
Please join us in cheering on Zach and the #21 team every Saturday night (weather permitting) at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway throughout the summer months! Racing action always begins at 7:00 pm.