CONCORD – After years of racing cars in video games, Aidan Zschiedrich got his first opportunity to strap into a race car at just 12 years old, but the young racer quickly learned the competition on the track wasn’t the only adversity he would face in his efforts to climb the racing ranks.
Now competing against stiff competition at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Cook Out Summer Shootout, the 16-year-old Beginner Bandolero driver’s dreams of racing were nearly derailed after a scoliosis diagnosis three years ago. While scoliosis is not uncommon, the curved spine caused Zschiedrich a great deal of pain neither a brace or physical therapy could alleviate.
In November 2021, Zschiedrich traveled to New Jersey to see a doctor who specializes in scoliosis. The doctor offered two options: surgery to completely reconstruct the spine or inserting a metal bar to support it. If Zschiedrich chose the metal bar, he would never be able to race again because he wouldn’t be able to bend his spine more than 20 degrees, so he and his family decided on the reconstructive option.
Zschiedrich's recovery took eight months, but he is now free of the pain previously caused by his scoliosis. During recovery, he couldn’t race and attended physical therapy often. He recently finished physical therapy. His motivation every day was to get back to Charlotte Motor Speedway and compete in the Cook Out Summer Shootout. Racing, he said, makes him feel like he is in another world.
“I just get in and start driving and every worry that I have had outside the car, it is just gone in the tire smoke,” Zschiedrich said.
Zschiedrich has finished no worse than fifth in his first five starts and earned a season’s-best runner up during Tuesday’s Round 5 action at the Cook Out Summer Shootout. He’s aiming for a trophy in Round 6 next week.
Round 6 of CookOut Summer Shootout takes place Tuesday, July 12 with “Game Night” at the speedway. In addition to a full slate of U.S. Legend Car and Bandolero action, there will be game show-themed events, prizes and family activities throughout the night.