Dr. Jack Miller got his start in racing late, so he was determined to forge a different path for his son.
“I didn’t race anything until I was 26 years old and ran my first Indy 500 when I was 35,” said Miller, who was nicknamed the ‘Racing Dentist’ during his career. “I decided if I had a child interested in racing, I would start him off early.”
That’s what happened as Miller’s son, who goes by Jack William Miller to avoid confusion, starting racing youth 4-wheelers at 2 years old and go-karts at age 3.
“From there, it was just keep climbing the ladder,” Miller said.
Jack, a Park Tudor School junior from Westfield, will move to the Indy Pro 2000 Championship series in 2021. Jack, 17, spent the last two years in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. He finished eighth in the 2020 point standings. He would have finished higher if three races hadn’t ended in crashes.
“He did very well this year. His highest finish was second,” Miller said. “He finished third in the Indy race. We feel with the skills he has, let’s move him up and see how he does. I think he’ll do really well.”
The next step on the Road to Indy path following Indy Pro is Indy Lights, and then IndyCar. Jack competes for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports, a team formed by his father and former Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, a Zionsville resident.
“After two years in USF2000, it’s good to make the step up,” Jack said. “I had some good results and performances this year.”
The biggest thing he said he has learned is how to better set up the car.
“The more experience, the more years you have in it, you are always going to do better,” Jack said. “When you move up you have a lot more options of things to do on the car.”
He is ready for the challenge.
“I think we can and should win some races,” said Jack, whose first Indy Pro race will be in March in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Jack said there was a benefit to start racing early.
“Nowadays, everyone is starting pretty young. It’s not like back in the day when you could get in a car at 20 and do well,” Jack said. “Now, you have to be so focused on it, it has to be your entire life to be at the top level.”
To be in top physical shape, Jack has participated in triathlons (bicycling, swimming and running) and recently completed his first half-ironman triathlon in Florida.
“Not many people realize how physical racecars are and how much racecar drivers have to train for them,” Jack said. “A lot of it is cardio stuff and I do the triathlons to just stay in shape. It helps at the end of the race. If you are the most fit one out there, you are going to do better.”
Another benefit to Jack has been the mentorship of other racecar drivers.
“We’ve had a lot of IndyCar drivers coach him over the years,” said Miller, mentioning Scott Goodyear, Gabby Chaves and Conor Daily. “Even though I’m telling him the same things they are telling him, it’s easier to listen to someone else than your own dad.”