Cat shot the art | NevadaAppeal.com

Cat shot the art

RHONDA COSTA-LANDERS

Five-year-old Zachary Heinz is all of 44 inches tall and weighs 44 pounds. His perky, smiling face is adorned with freckles, his head topped with bright red hair.

Zachary’ likes riding his bike around the neighborhood with friends, fishing, takes swimming lessons and attends preschool at Gingerbread House.

But when Saturdays come around, Zachary has interest in only one thing – racing his Outlaw Kart.

“I like racing because I like to go fast,” he said.

Zachary is in his first full year of kart racing competition and is in the top three in the points standings. His unassuming smile, waves and “two thumbs-up” to the crowd are quickly making him a fan favorite.

“He really is having a lot of fun out there,” said dad, Marlowe Heinz.

Zachary’s interest in racing began by chance. He and his dad happened by Fuji Park one Saturday afternoon and noticed the racing. When they were done, the two ventured into the pits to check them out. A friend let Zachary sit in a car, strapped him in and let him test the car on the track.

Zachary was hooked.

At Zachary’s preschool graduation recently, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grows up.

“I want to be a race car driver,” smiled Zachary. “I want to race cars everyday. I want to race in NASCAR.”

In the first six weeks of racing, Zachary has won all of the trophy dashes in his division and one main event.

“I pretty much just push on the pedals and steer the car,” said Zachary matter of factly.

“I like my dad being out there with me because he’s the bestest pit crew.”

“Zach tells me if the car feels loose or if it’s tight, like when the tires are spinning,” said Heinz. “Then we make changes inbetween races.”

Between races, Zachary takes a nap so he’s not so tired for the main event.

“He was racing the main one night and started getting tired,” said Heinz.

“After 11 or 12 laps, Nicole Buffa just charged by him and won the race. When we got to the pits after the race, he wasn’t upset he lost, he told me he was just tired. So now he naps inbetween races and he’s been doing better.”

There are 10 drivers in the beginner box class. Marlowe said the two most important things he can give Zachary is positive reinforcement and seat time.

“The more time he has in the car, the better he does. It’s like that with anybody. And I always tell him he’s doing good. I don’t harp on him or yell at him – I just let him go. If he wins, he wins. And if he doesn’t, he doesn’t get upset.”

When Zachary won his first main event on July 7 at Champion Speedway, he grabbed the trophy and said, “I’m taking this to school.” It became one of his best show-and-tell moments.

Zachary was born in Oregon and raised in Carson City. He has two sisters – 3-year-old Elizabeth and 1-year-old Emily – and mom Katherine. All attend the races to watch and cheer him on.

When Zachary’s main event is over, he heads to the grandstands, “hangs with them” and signs autographs.

His favorite drivers to watch in the “big” cars are Chet Danburg, C.J. Bawden and his dad. He also likes Al Goss, who carries the No. 3 like the late Dale Earnhardt, also one of Zachary’s favorites.

“Winning is a cool thing for Zach,” said Heinz. “But he’s found out there’s other stuff that makes racing fun. Like running through water or mud puddles.

“He got to the last lap of a race and hit this water puddle that just sprayed him all over. Because of that it slowed him down and he didn’t win – and he didn’t care. He had more fun running through that puddle.

“Zachary really is a happy kid. Winning is not that big of a deal to him. But he would like to win the championship.”

“If I win the championship,” smiled Zachary, “I get a trophy bigger than me.”