Local racer on road to dream
by Jason Greenberg
Jun 12, 2013 | 1449 views | 0 0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Big things tend to have small beginnings.

This is the hope for 11-year-old Zach Leonhardi, who is a Bandolero car racer with dreams of becoming a professional racecar driver someday.

Leonhardi started racing this season on June 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and has already experienced success in his short racing career.

The Bandolero car is a racecar designed for drivers as young as 8 years old and is often a stepping stone between kart racing and car racing. It can reach speeds over 70 mph. Leonhardi moved to Bandolero car racing in 2010.

Every Thursday evening through July 25, Leonhardi will be competing in the Thursday Thunder series.

This highly competitive series has paved the way for NASCAR drivers Joey Logano, David Ragan and Reed Sorenson.

“I want to try and race in NASCAR someday,” Leonhardi said. “I like the adrenaline rush and just being in the moment.”

June 6th was the season opener for the Thursday Thunder series with the drivers competing in two races.

Leonhardi started 10th out of 14 and patiently worked through the field to take the win.

In the second race, he started eighth and quickly worked his way through the field to lead several laps. He ended up with a second-place finish and is currently tied for first in the points race.

“We are hoping to win a championship,” Leonhardi said. “It is close right now so it’s going to be a tight race.”

Leonhardi has a combined 121 starts with karts and the bandolero cars. He placed fourth overall in the Bandolero Nationals last year at Sunny South Raceway. In his first year of Thursday Thunder, 2010, he ran a partial schedule and finished 14th overall. In 2011, he finished fourth overall and third overall in 2012.

Earlier this year a north Georgia production company, Seriously Southern Entertainment, approached Leonhardi about being part of “3Wide Pride,” a reality TV show on young racing phenoms running out of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Leonhardi’s sponsors include NAPA Auto Parts, Castrol and VE’s Green Garden. He has been a presenter on Career Day at some elementary schools and has made appearances for local charities.

He currently lives in Cartersville and will be a seventh-grader this fall at South Central Middle School.

At the age of 5, Zach began racing go-karts on a dirt track in Chatsworth. In his first year, 2008, he finished second overall in points in the Beginner Purple Class. In 2009 he set the fastest lap track record at Dawgwood Speedway in the Beginner Purple class with a 14.00 second lap and won the class championship. That same season he set the fastest lap track record in Rookie Boxstock with a 13.49 second lap and finished fifth overall in points.

Leonhardi hopes to continue his progress as his young career is just beginning.

For posts updates of his racing progress on his Facebook Page (Leonhardi Motorsports) or on his website at www.leonhardimotorsports.com.