Race weekends are about more than just racing for Dylan Zampa.
Before every event, the 18-year-old participates in various fundraisers and charity events, whether it‘s going to visit and drop off snacks for patients at the Ronald McDonald House near his home track of All American Speedway or helping raise money for food banks, Zampa uses his racing for more than just wins on the track.
Zampa got into the charity work while competing this summer in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, which was established by the family of late NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki to “help worthy drivers along the way in reaching their dream.”
“They want the drivers to go out there and change someone‘s life, and that‘s kind of what I‘ve been doing the last couple years,” Zampa said of the charity work.
“That‘s actually one of the best parts about race weekends. You get to hear before the races who won the fundraiser or go the Ronald McDonald house where I get to go in and drop off all the snacks, and all the kids see the snacks and go crazy.
“That‘s always probably my favorite part of the race weekends is seeing people‘s faces light up.”
Went down to my local food bank today and helped them with putting food boxes together for the elder homes here in Napa. Always love coming to my neighborhood food bank to give where I can.#KDDP | #Racing4Alan pic.twitter.com/rXSedehi2s
— Dylan Zampa (@zampa_dylan) October 26, 2022
The charity work has come a bit easier for Zampa since he gained such a big following at All American, a third-mile NASCAR-sanctioned paved oval in Roseville, California. In the track‘s late model division this season, Zampa won 11 of 13 races, had six fast times and broke a track record for victories.
His success has given him even more of a following, which has helped with his charitable fundraising efforts.
“Ever since I started using Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that stuff, I feel like my follower count has definitely gone up, obviously, and that makes it more known when I go to tracks and I do fundraisers,” Zampa said. “It‘s like, ‘Oh I follow him. He does something every weekend, we need to donate.‘ So definitely having fans that go to every single race makes a big difference also. They‘re always buying tickets and trying to win the big money, so it makes it a lot easier having really big fans and supporters every single weekend.”
This season was Zampa‘s first championship at All American, coming in his first full season racing at the track.
Last year he was only able to get in about seven races at All American, but he still came away with a handful of wins and finished fifth in points.
This year, he won the track championship by 62 points.
“It‘s just something about that track with me. And what my dad can do with the setup is just crazy,” Zampa said. “Even though the competition is really stout, we seemed to have it figured out every weekend, which made it a lot nicer for me.
“There was some pretty good competition this year… it was a good season all around. The team worked very hard all season, and we never gave up.”
Zampa credited his success to his team and their work all summer. The entire Zampa family is involved with the race team. His dad, Joey, is Zampa‘s crew chief, and his mom is there with the team every week. They also have family friends who work on the car.
“It wouldn‘t be possible without my mom or my dad,” he said. “They worked their tails off every day, even Saturday and Sunday when were mostly racing every week. I just couldn‘t do it without my parents and everyone that‘s on my crew. Our crew members are family friends. No one gets paid; they all just do it out of love, so that makes it a lot better at the race track.”
Improving on the racetrack has been a life-long effort for Zampa, who first started practicing in the car when he was 4. His great grandfather tried racing but didn‘t like being behind the wheel himself. He instead built cars and was a crew chief, which eventually got Joey into the sport.
Joey raced quarter-midgets, legends and super late models until his two sons were old enough to start driving.
“He gave up his racing career to let us do what we want to do,” Dylan Zampa said of his dad.
Zampa‘s older brother raced for a time but has now stepped out of the car to pursue playing rugby in college.
“I‘m kind of the only one racing right now, so it kind of feels good to keep the racing legacy going,” Zampa said. “I‘ll probably keep it going forever.”
Working as a team on the car is the biggest racing lesson Zampa learned from his dad.
“It takes a team effort. It‘s not just about one driver,” he said. “One driver isn‘t going to make you win. It‘s about teamwork, how you execute the weekend, how the driver executes in the race. It‘s just everything that makes a race team; that‘s what makes a race-winning team.
“When you‘re racing 20-something races, sometimes one of them can get on your nerves… But most of the time it‘s great because they know exactly what you need. If it‘s really hot out, someone already knows if I need a water or if my dad needs help. Everyone knows exactly what to do. When we go to the racetrack, my dad doesn‘t need to give orders or that type of stuff. Everyone knows exactly what to do. That makes it‘s a lot nicer that we‘re not running around looking like maniacs. We look like a nice race team, and we have our stuff together, so that makes it 10 times easier having people you know.”
IT‘S OFFICIAL…..I will be going super late model racing next year. I will be piloting this brand new CRF for Randy Hedrick with Sierra Speed Technology. Stay tuned for more updates as we close out 2022 and prep for 2023!🏁#KDDP | #Racin4Alan pic.twitter.com/ujpwHWRG0y
— Dylan Zampa (@zampa_dylan) October 28, 2022
Next season, Zampa will race full-time on the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series in the Pro-Late Model division, where he‘ll race all up and down the West Coast. He‘ll join a team as their first full-time driver, making 2023 even more exciting.
As he continues the family legacy of racing, it‘s a sport Zampa said he wants to be involved in “forever.”
“I don‘t really know what it is, but it‘s just something that feels right to me,” Zampa said of racing. “If I don‘t race, I kind of feel like all those years that I spent practicing and perfecting what I do kind of went to waste. I feel like just being in a race car is kind of what defines me.
“That‘s how I introduce myself to people: ‘I‘m Dylan Zampa, and I race race cars.’ If I said all that without racing race cars, I feel like I wouldn‘t be who I am.”