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FEATURE

An Open Wheel Natural

Hanna Zeller’s Race Up the Indy Car Ladder

 

By Adam Riley - February 2016

Dangerous.  Sexy.  Fast.  A combination that most auto sports cannot provide.  But these traits are what make open-wheel racing different.  You’re completely exposed.  Racing tire to tire.  In the rain.  In the heat.  Skidding across pavement with moments of limitless traction.  Blink an eye and tires can rub, causing disaster -- even fatality.  The open-wheel game is an adrenaline rush, and it’s the auto sport Hanna Zellers lives for.  She’s racing her way up the ladder, in hopes to make it as one of the fastest Indy drivers to date.

 

One can say racing may be in her genes.  Before Hanna was born, her parents were heavily involved in racing and actively participated in SCCA Formula series events.  Together they traveled competing in events, and even share a candid story about Hanna’s conception after a hotel fire, during the night of a track day event.  Neither of her parents ever thought Hanna would carry on the same racing enthusiasm, but there was something different about this little girl.

 

Growing up, Hanna always knew she didn’t quite fit in with the normal crowd.  Having different interests that most Midwestern kids, she was looked at as an outsider.  Besides, she had been involved in karting at seven years old and began competing at the age of nine.  By fifteen, she held 2 championship karting wins, over 35 total event wins, 60 top fives, and was charging into SCCA circuit by obtaining her SCCA and NASA Competition licenses.  One can say -- she had other focuses than school activities.

 

 

By sixteen, Hanna’s father agreed to purchase a low cost, race spec Mazda MX5 for track use.  The car was perfect for training and to prepare her to become aggressive with a larger vehicle; though it wasn’t quite the route either she or her father were planning.  So after getting comfy in the Mazda and despite a middle class family income, they decided to purchase a Formula Enterprise racecar.  At seventeen years old, the game became serious.

 

“I couldn’t believe it . . . I thought, I am finally getting my try in Formula racing.”  She said.  Packed with 170 horsepower, weighing roughly only 1,300 pounds, Hanna was now loaded with a racecar that could run 0 to 100mph in under 5 seconds and reach speeds of upwards of 135 mph.  With limited rules for motors and modifications, racing the FE car relies on pure driving skills.  So practice is what Hanna needed most.

 

Working double time taking online classes, she pushed through high school graduating a year early.  Getting on the racetrack to for more time behind the wheel was necessary, if she was to start the 2015 race season fully focused.  Apparently the hard work paid off.  Since beginning the SCCA Formula Enterprise Season, she’s brewed up a storm and had taken 2 first place wins, 11 top tens and placed 2nd in the SCCA US Majors North Conference Championship, along with 11th in the SCCA National Championship.

 

 

“It was so refreshing to win during this past season . . . To know; I’m doing what the guys are doing.”  She said.  Now prepping for the 2016 season ahead, Hanna is determined to drive up the ladder into the Mazda, “Road to Indy Series.” But it’s a long battle comprised of a three levels the drivers have to make it to, beginning with the Verizon Indy Car Series; a training ground for entry level drivers.

 

“It’s a tough challenge . . . we’re driving on a small family budget, while in a sea of wealthy racers . . . I’m just staying focused and extremely competitive.”

 

In a motorsport where top racers are perceived as rock stars, Hanna holds to key to what it takes to climb the charts.  With stunning looks, great personality and track skills to match, the 2016 season will be an exciting time for this Midwestern girl.  So keep your eyes peeled for her upcoming podium finishes as Hanna race’s up the Indy car ladder.

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Hanna Zellers.  www.hannazracing.com

 

 

 

<>8 - 9x

 

 

 

Feature Details:

Name: Hanna Zellers

Age 18

Location: Indiana, USA

Instagram:  @hannazellers

Website: www.hannazellersracing.com

 

 

Car: Formula Enterprise

Year: 2003

Motor:  EFI, Twin Cam, 2.3L Mazda MZR

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

Horsepower: 170hp @ 5,800 RPMs

Weight: 1250lbs

 

 

 

 

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