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Indy 500: Who is Rinus van Kalmthout?

Rinus van Kalmthout is, of course, Rinus Veekay the 19-year old Indycar rookie sensation who will start the 2020 Indianapolis 500 from fourth on the grid, behind pole-winner Marco Andretti.

Most impressive is the fact that the young Dutchman was the only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine, top of the grid shootout, whereby he stunned the establishment with a 230.704 mph blast in the #21 Ed Carpenter Racing-run Sonax Dallara-Chevrolet to become the fastest teenager ever around the Brickyard

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Born on 11 September 2000, in Hoofddorp, he is professionally known as Rinus VeeKay and made a mark in the Indycar scene as 2018 Champion of the Pro Mazda series, winning 7 of 16 races during his debut season.

His stellar performance this week has catapulted him into the world spotlight as he takes on the world’s most famous and toughest oval race, with a second-row start, with a good car under him anything is possible.

Veekay said afterwards, “It was a great qualifying,” VeeKay said. “Wind was a little tough, got a little loose in the last lap, but I stayed flat through all the four laps and that was my aim. And I think as the only Chevy being fourth, it’s amazing.

“I know we have a good race car. It’s the hardest thing to say as a rookie. That’s my goal. Of course, it’s your goal, but you’ve got to be realistic. It’s the Indy 500. Anything can happen. So yeah, I try not to think about it because it will only distract me, but yeah, I think we’re getting close.

With two Indy 500 veterans Ed Carpenter and Conor Daly in his corner, the pair starting 16th and 18th respectively in a three-car effort that could surprise next Sunday.

“I think (Ed) can teach me everything,” VeeKayadmitted. “He has so much experience there. Even Conor has so many starts here. It’s very valuable for me and yeah, it’s just great to have such a team with such teammates and engineers around me, that have so much experience that they bring all that experience over to me.”

Veekay could become the youngest winner of the Indy 500, the accolade that belongs to Troy Ruttman who was 22 years and 80 days old when he won the 36th Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1952.

From his website here are snapshots of another prodigy from Holland, unashamedly inspired by Max Verstappen, worth making a note of:

The KNAC National Autosport Federation (KNAF) recognised Van Kalmthout’s potential at young age in karting and selected him for its KNAF Talent First programme. This NOC*NSF approved programme supports young talented racers on their way to the top echelons in motorsport. The NOC*NSF elite status is issued for motorsport talent by an Olympic network, and only on recommendation of the KNAF

Unique talent
Rinus van Kalmthout, son of successful entrepreneur and BOSS GP driver Marijn van Kalmthout, began in karting in 2009 at the age of 8. Soon after Rinus’ first laps in a kart, coach Pierre Redeker spotted a unique talent in the young Van Kalmthout. Thanks to good guidance that talent quickly blossomed.

2017
Rinus van Kalmthout started in the Cooper Tires USF2000 series and it seemed like the type of track on which he had to race didn’t matter at all for the Dutch race driver. Be it a traditional road course, an oval, or a street circuit like Toronto, as the Pabst Racing driver has showed he is very likely to race to the podium. A runner-up position in the championship was a great result for the autosport rookie.

2018
For 2018 Van Kalmthout decided on a wise approach. Moving up from USF2000, but one step at a time. Driving for top-line Juncos Racing, VeeKay has proven his abilities in the Pro Mazda series by winning the championship.

2019
Moving up a step on the Road to Indy program each year brought VeeKay to the Indy Lights. And again he proved himself to be an outstanding race driver, scoring 7 pole positions, 6 victories and 14 podiums. VeeKay became vice-champion Indy Lights and drove most laps in the lead (250 out of 600).

Career highlights

  • 2009-2010 Dutch Winter champion Cadet class
  • 2010 Runner-up in Dutch Cadet championship
  • 2011 Dutch and Benelux World Formula champion
  • 2012 Dutch Rotax Max Minimax champion
  • 2013 Dutch Rotax Max Junior rookie champion
  • 2013 Dutch Rotax Max Junior overall champion
  • 2014 3rd in CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy
  • 2014 KNAF Talent First selection, supported by NOC*NSF
  • 2015 3rd in BNL Karting Series Senior
  • 2015 Runner-up in European Rotax Max Euro Challenge Senior championship
  • 2015 Runner-up in Rotax US Open Senior championship
  • 2015 Winner of single-seater test in Mazda Road to Indy (USA)
  • 2016 3rd in IAME X30 Euro Series
  • 2016 4th in European Rotax Max Euro Challenge Senior championship
  • 2016 3rd in BNL Karting Series Senior
  • 2016 4 podium finishes out of 6 races in VDV Racing Series Formule Renault with MP Motorsport

2017  

  • Runner-up in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda in his rookie season, after a hard title battle with Oliver Askew
  • Claimed three victories, three new track records and a total of 12 podium finishes out of 14 races
  • The only USF2000 driver in history that never finished a race lower than he qualified!
  • Runner-up in the BOSS GP FIA International Racing Series Open Class. 5 podium finishes out of 6 races and a victory in the final BOSS GP Super Prix at Imola (Italy).

2018

  • 3rd in MRF Challenge with 3 victories and 11 podiums
  • Pro Mazda Champion with a marge of 67 points to the runner-up and 109 to number 3
  • 6 pole positions, 7 wins and 4 track records

2019

  • Champion Formula 3 Asian Winter Series
  • 4 victories out of 9 races, only missed podium once
  • Indy Lights Championship with Juncos Racing
  • 7 pole positions, 6 Victories and 14 podiums
  • Vice-champion Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires
  • Most laps in the lead (250 out of 600)