By: Richie Murray
Speedway, Indiana (January 23, 2024)………Zach Wigal, fresh off a USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midget championship a year ago, will take the next step in his young racing career by competing full-time as a Rookie of the Year candidate on the 2024 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship tour for CB Industries.
The 16-year-old Wigal, who hails from Belpre, Ohio, located just a stone’s throw away from the West Virginia border, is a current junior at Parkersburg High School. For 2024, he’ll take on a dream opportunity to compete for the team owned by Chad Boat which captured the 2020 series title and owns 33 career series victories, 13th all-time.
Wigal will pilot the No. 89 CB Industries Spike/Speedway Toyota with primary sponsorship from Dave Knost Auto Outlet. Now, his dream of a full-time USAC National Midget ride has arrived.
“It’s super awesome,” Wigal exclaimed. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was a little kid. A huge thank you to Chad for this great opportunity and trusting me in his equipment. It’s the best equipment in the world and I feel like I have the talent to pump out decent results.”
Wigal earned the USAC Midwest Thunder series title in 2023 by the narrowest margin in series history, three points and one single position while also gaining six feature victories in his family-owned ride. It’s also not Wigal’s first venture with CB Industries. Over the past two seasons, Wigal has competed in the team’s micro sprint quite frequently at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway, so he has the familiarity of the crew going into year three with the team.
Wigal hot lapped Boat’s midget and intended to compete in the car during 2023. However, that moment was delayed by Mother Nature. Receiving his first real chance to race a midget during USAC’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Chase McDermand’s team, Wigal turned heads as he ran third in his prelim feature before a lap seven incident knocked him out of the race. Despite the tumultuous ending, Wigal more than exceeded his initial goal.
“The goal was just to make the prelim A-Main,” Wigal revealed. “We surpassed that pretty well, which gave me a lot of confidence and let me know that I could run with the best.”
A third-generation racer, Wigal is following in the footsteps of his father, Lee Wigal, who was a regular on the UMP Modified circuit throughout the 1990s, and his grandfather, who competed in the open wheel dirt track ranks in the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania area.
Wigal began his career behind the wheel early on in a Mini Wedge, which is basically a kart with a roll cage. From the age of eight until 13, Wigal cut his teeth in the quarter midget ranks, winning a pair of regional titles in the process. By 2022, at the age of 14, he entered the USAC Midwest Thunder ranks, finishing second in his first start and winning in his second appearance at Ohio’s Moler Raceway Park.
This year will present many of the same challenges but multiplied tenfold as Wigal takes on several venues for the first time.
“(The biggest challenge) will be just getting to see all the new different tracks I’ve never been to,” Wigal estimated. “A lot drivers in the series have ran 20-some races on those tracks and I’ve never been to or seen many of them. It’s going to be a challenge to learn the new tracks, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
The 2024 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season begins on April 26-27 with the Kokomo Grand Prix at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway.