Zimicki's prior coaching helps Rahal and Patrick to first wins Major league open-wheel racing has had a lot to celebrate over the past several weeks including historic race victories by both Graham Rahal (youngest driver in history to win an IndyCar Series race) and Danica Patrick (first female to win a closed-course race). While the victories by Rahal and Danica came world’s apart and on different types of circuits (Rahal’s win was on street course in St. Petersburg, Florida and Danica’s on an oval in Motegi, Japan) both have a common thread. That “common thread” is renowned driver coach Mike Zimicki.
For over 25 years, Zimicki has provided a star-studded list of race car driver clients with expertise in the areas of driver coaching and development, data analysis and integration of information from an engineering standpoint. Having worked extensively for multiple years with both Rahal and Danica, Zimicki takes a tremendous amount of satisfaction in their respective victories. “I started working with Danica when she joined Rahal Letterman Racing in 2003. To help her career advance and grow through the Atlantic Series and into IndyCar competition, and to see her now as a race-winner at the highest level of professional motorsports, it’s a real pleasure,” says Zimicki.
“While working with Danica, Bobby (Rahal) asked me to take on an extensive driver coaching and development role with Graham when he made the move from karts to formula cars,” continued Zimicki. “We worked together and enjoyed a lot of success in Formula BMW, Star Mazda, the Atlantic Series and all the way through Champ Car. Graham and my relationship has been very fulfilling both personally and professionally.”
“When looking for the right coach for Danica and Graham because of their inexperience, Mike was the guy,” stated three-time CART champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Even with experienced drivers, Mike can help them see things in a different light. There is no question in my mind that in the cases of both Danica and Graham, Mike played an integral role in their graduation to the highest forms of the sport.”
Outside of Zimicki’s successful work with Rahal and Danica, he also has worked with champion drivers including the likes of Jon Fogarty (two-time Atlantic Series and Grand-Am Daytona Prototype champion). Says Zimicki, “My approach to working with a driver is to integrate coaching, data analysis and engineering to maximize success for the driver and for the team - - and to help my driver clients build a foundation of skills that will serve them at every level of the sport.” It is an approach that has served Zimicki and his clients very well.
Zimicki is currently working with Rahal Letterman Racing and its IndyCar program as well as with Alex Figge who will be making the transition from open-wheel racing to sportscar competition in the American Le Mans Series with Tafel Racing.