For 14 laps, he led the most prestigious race in the world.
Zach Veach, who I coached in fourth-grade basketball, was out in front toward the end of the race.
When it was over, he finished in 15th place.
But from laps 171 to 184, he was the leader, and nothing can take that away.
“Took a big gamble and was leading the Indy 500 with 15 to go,” Zach tweeted. “Unfortunately, the yellow we needed was about 15 laps too late. Leading the 500 with a small chance to win was a surreal feeling that has me counting down the days to the 105th!”
I was so happy for him, but a little frustrated I could not be there to watch in person.
A yellow flag was what he needed, but it came a little too late.
He mentioned being the leader was a surreal feeling that makes him anticipate next year’s running of the 500 miles at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Being a leader is something we cannot take for granted.
It’s not a trait that you are born with but learned over time.
This was Zach’s fourth attempt to kiss the bricks and he wants nothing more than to drink from the milk cart one day.
What makes a good leader?
And there are more.
Most notably patience.
He mentioned the yellow flag came a little late. Had he been in a different position and if the yellow came sooner, things might have turned out different. He might have been in better position to win. But he learned and gain valuable experience.
Leaders know their mission. One of Zach’s goals was to lead some laps. Check.
1- A great leader knows their mission and will achieve it.
Take for example, Ronald Reagan. He knew his mission. He was determined to reach it and refused to be paralyzed by fear and he communicated his mission and how to get there. In turn, Zach could have let the fear of going 240 mph around an oval track stop him.
2- Great leaders take care of the people around them. The Lord Jesus Christ is the best example of this. His concern for His people is demonstrated in many ways in the Gospels and all throughout Scripture. And Zach also takes care of his crew. He always compliments them and lets them know they are important to the success of the team. From the pit crew to his spotters, he zoomed to the leaderboard with everyone’s help.
3- And a good leader is not afraid for others to succeed. They show sportsmanship and congratulate those who do well. In turn, they show they are not threatened by another’s success. They can celebrate when those around them succeed. Zach wanted to win but it wasn’t his day. He tweeted out a congratulatory message to Takuma Sato, who won his second Indy 500.
A good leader will make sure his or her family goes to church on a regular basis.
They will set the example and do good even when no one is around to witness.
A good leader serves others and does not expect anything in return. They truly love and value people and want to help others for the good of the one being helped, not necessarily for personal gain.
A good leader will continue to learn. Zach will tell you he learned over the past four Indianapolis 500 races. Each one, he gets closer to his goal. He has faith in his ability and his team.
Being a leader does not happen overnight. The desire to jump in front is a risk and takes determination.
The world needs leaders and followers. On Sunday, Zach was both. But he’s learning to be leader.
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.