Andrew Zimmer, who has built a reputation as one of the top young driving talents in the Inland Northwest, broke through for his first SuperKarts USA Pro Tour victory last weekend in Tuscon, Ariz., and with it earned more than $1,000 in prize money.
That may not seem like a big payday, but after struggling in recent years to make a living in stock cars, modifieds and open-wheel racing, the Washington State University engineering student was happy to be back in the winner’s circle.
The SuperKarts USA Pro Tour draws entries from all over the United States. Zimmer has plenty of experience racing at the professional karting level but had yet to score a major national-event victory.
“This is a professional tour that pulls the best from all over the United States,” said Zimmer. “We had 40 entries in our division last weekend so it’s a big deal in the racing world. It’s pretty incredible, to tell you the truth.”
From racing all over the country, to meeting business leaders regarding summer internships, the last few months have been hectic, making it difficult to soak up the win with supporters and family, Zimmer added.
“I am always running somewhere between all the kart races and school so I haven’t gotten home as much as I would like. Our race team is like a family and we get along really well. My head mechanic, Luke Vasquez, has a tremendous passion for karting and developed the team I am with now. I feel like I’m in my prime and know I’m near my goal of being ranked in the top five in the country as a karter.”
Financing has been the major part of Zimmer’s career that has held him back from progressing to a ride in NASCAR or a seat in one of the many open-wheel circuits. Sponsorship to run at the highest levels of karting is a key reason that Zimmer returned his focus to his roots.
“Luckily I have sponsors who believe in me,” Zimmer said. “We don’t have a ton of money behind us but we have a good chassis and strong motors with this team. I do have a motor of my own and we won with it last weekend but to have a backup is nice if and when you need to use it. Of all the years of karting from out of Spokane that motor is all I have left of our own equipment and to win with it was really special.”
Zimmer has raced modifieds and late models for former NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver Trevor Boys. He has also driven his family’s entry on the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association and had a stint with Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice’s karting team. At each stop, learning from the top drivers and car owners has been a key to success.
“It’s always nice to learn from the professional drivers and then do the best I can to be professional in my own way,” said Zimmer. “In karting it all starts with kids who look up to older kids in a club or a region and it’s really cool to be part of that now (where young karters are looking up to Zimmer).”