Photo Courtesy of Jon Graber

Rockin’ and Racin’: Colton Herta and ‘The Zibs’ to tour this month

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Colton Herta may be best known as one of the rising stars of the NTT IndyCar Series, but away from the track, the 19-year-old Californian can be found in a loud, fast-paced environment of a completely different kind.

In his spare time, Herta plays drums in the Zibs, a punk rock group he helped start a year ago with a few of his friends from high school.

Later this month, the Zibs will go on their first tour, with five stops in California and Arizona within a five-day stretch. 

Hetra takes pride in his drumming abilities, but don’t think he’s going to trade in his already successful racing career to pursue a full-time musical career. Despite the Zibs’ rising popularity, racing still remains Herta’s first passion.

“It definitely started as a hobby,” Herta told NBC Sports. “Obviously, it’s grown a little bit more serious with us getting booked for shows and stuff, but we still all do it for fun.

“Racing is the priority and it always has been, but this is kind of a fun thing to do with the time off that I get.”

Herta isn’t the only racer who enjoys jamming out on the drums. Fellow IndyCar competitor Will Power is also a talented drummer, as is NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace. 

But in the Zibs, Herta isn’t the only star of the show. He is joined by guitarist Adam Snow, bassist Chris Broadbent and lead singer Jon Graber.

Prior to the formation of the Zibs, none of the members aside from Snow had ever played in a band before, and Graber said he remembers what inspired the original trio of him, Herta and Broadbent to create the band.

“We played a lot of RockBand, the video game,” Graber said “We decided that we wanted to just start a band because we got bored of the video game.”

“I picked up drums when I was about eight or nine and then I stopped playing for a bit,” Herta said. “I thought it would be fun to just try and play again.

“Chris and Jon actually did not know how to play an instrument in the beginning and so they learned from the ground up.”

Now, a year later, the Zibs is ready to embark on their first tour. The band will perform alongside “I Set My Friends on Fire” and “Everyone Dies in Utah” during all five stops, and Graber, who is studying music in college, is looking forward to hit the road for a week. 

“It’s super exciting,” Graber said. “Super nervous, but it’s mostly exciting. I just can’t wait for it.”

Graber also said that the band is planning to release an album online before the tour, and is hopeful to perform more shows following the tour, but the main goal for the group still remains the same: to have fun and make music that they enjoy.

“We just love playing,” Graber said. “That’s like our main thing.

“We’re friends playing music together. We’re not like a band that became friends. We’re friends that became a band. That’s what we like to stress.”

With their first show just three weeks away, the Zibs hope to draw a great crowd for each performance, and although Herta’s involvement with the band is completely different from his racing duties, IndyCar fans are more than welcome to attend any and all of the Zibs performances.

“I’d love to see some people out if they’re interested and have the time off,” Herta said.

The Zibs’ 2019 tour is below. Music by the band can also be found on Apple Music, Spotify and Youtube

Nov. 22: The Boardwalk – Orangevale, CA

Nov. 23: Downtown Santa Ana – Santa Ana, CA

Nov. 24: 1720 – Los Angeles, CA

Nov. 25: Full Circle Brewery – Fresno, CA

Nov. 26: Club Red – Mesa, AZ


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Alexander Rossi hopes to dodge oncoming traffic in second Baja 1000

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One of the great viral videos of last year’s offseason was the sight of Alexander Rossi’s Honda Ridgeline off-road vehicle and its near head-on collision with a passenger SUV coming in the wrong direction of last year’s Baja 1000.

The video of the incident overshadowed an outstanding debut for Rossi in the SCORE OFF Road Desert race.

Rossi (pictured above on the right along with fellow driver Jeff Proctor) told that driving down the same roads still used by passenger traffic is one of the unique challenges of the Baja 1000.

“The most demanding form of racing is IndyCar racing,” Rossi told NBC “But the big thing for me in the Baja 1000 is mentally being able to understand the terrain that is coming at you at 120 miles an hour in the dust and pedestrians and other cars, people and cattle that come along with this race.”

Rossi is becoming a modern-day Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. He wants to race anything on wheels and win.

Since the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season concluded with the Sept. 22 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Rossi competed in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia on Oct. 13. Earlier this year, Rossi drove for Acura Team Penske in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

This weekend, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and a perennial contender for the NTT IndyCar Series championship will compete in the Baja 1000 for the second straight year.

Rossi will be driving for the Honda Ridgeline Racing team and is the sixth Indy 500 winner to compete in the Baja 1000.

Other Indy 500 winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis winner and a two-time Baja 1000 race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Indy winner in 2014; Rick Mears, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times, 1985 Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan and 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice.

NTT IndyCar season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

Rossi has a better understanding of what to expect in this year’s Baja 1000 after last year’s rookie experience.

How valuable was last years’ experience?

“It’s hugely valuable,” Rossi said. “The course changes each year. There will be some elements that are the same, but it’s a new route from start to finish this year. That is why we go down a week early. We do pre-running in a similar type of vehicle and take course notes and analyze each individual section of the course, find the danger areas and what you need to do come race day.

“Ultimately, the biggest thing is having the knowledge of how to prepare for the race and what to expect once you roll off the starting line. That is something I will have going for me this year that I didn’t have last year.”

As an off-road rookie, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“I don’t know that I can pinpoint any highlights other than just the whole experience,” Rossi said of last years’ experience. “The whole week and a half I had down there in 2018 was phenomenal. The team made me feel part of the family from Day One. I just love driving a desert truck through Baja California. It’s an experience unlike any other.

“The entire event was a highlight more than one specific moment.”

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Driving an off-road Honda Ridgeline through the desert of Baja California in Mexico is vastly different than Rossi’s regular ride in the No. 27 NAPA Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series. But Rossi believes there are many similarities, also.

“It’s very different, for obvious reasons, but ultimately, a race car is a race car,” Rossi said. “It has four wheels, and you are trying to get it from Point A to Point B quicker than other people. The general underlying techniques of getting a car through the corner efficiently is all the same; it’s just a different style.

“Everyone here is very talented at what they do and very good so in order to win this race, you have to be at the top of your game.”

The Baja 1000, like most forms of off-road racing, is more against the clock than a wheel-to-wheel competition such as IndyCar. Rossi believes it is a different form of endurance racing, similar to IMSA in many ways.

“You have to compare it like an endurance race,” Rossi said. “It’s a race where the first part of it, you are trying to get through and not take chances and stay in touch with the people you are trying to stay in touch with.

“When you get down to the final 20 to 30 percent, that is when you try to either close the lead of extend the lead of whatever position you are in. That is similar to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It comes down to the last three or four hours, and we take a mentality closer to that.

“The only difference is if you get it wrong at Daytona, you spin in the grass. Here, it can be more dramatic than that.”

As an off-road rookie in 2018, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff [Proctor] and Pat [Dailey] once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.”

The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500; where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis; and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.

Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018; and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year. The Ridgeline competes in Class 7, for unlimited six-cylinder production-appearing trucks and SUVs.

“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers ALL of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough.

“Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”

The Baja 1000 begins Friday and runs through the weekend along the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500