Rinus VeeKay became IndyCar’s newest winner last weekend when he stormed through the field and claimed victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
In the past few years, the young Dutch driver climbed his way through the official Road to Indy ladder and was able to use that experience to land a seat with Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2020 season.
IndyCar has three official steps in its development ladder, with drivers able to advance through US F2000, Pro Mazda Championship, and Indy Lights on their way to a drive in the top series.
VeeKay blasted his way through each level, only spending one year in each category and finishing either first or second in each championship.
As he explained after his maiden win on Saturday, that experience was invaluable and directly led him to the point he is today in his career.
“It’s definitely unique that there’s a scholarship system,” said VeeKay. “It really prepares you.
“You’re always driving before the IndyCar in the same weekends, and you see the IndyCars going and you can see the races in real life, but you can also race on the tracks you’re going to race in an IndyCar.
“My first-ever test in US F2000 in that new car was here [at Indianapolis]. That was the Chris Griffis test in 2016.
“Amazing to have so much experience on this track in a long time and go through all the ladder systems and win races and know how to race here.
“I have done many passes, many laps on this track before in all sorts of cars, and it definitely prepared me. I knew everything that could happen in every corner, every scenario, just because of the Road to Indy.
“So very grateful that I had the opportunity to do that and be successful in the Road to Indy, and show that if you can win the Road to Indy, you can win an IndyCar race.”
VeeKay considers the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his home track, as does IndyCar itself, on account of his development time on the track, and that he can see the grandstands from the windows in his house.
In his rookie IndyCar season last year, VeeKay earned his first career pole position and podium finish in the first race of the Harvest GP, which was also held on the same road course.
He will spend the next two weeks at the famous facility as well, as preparations are already well under way for the 105th Indy 500 which takes place on May 30.