LOUDON, N.H. — For more than 60 years of NASCAR Modified racing, the No. 4 Mystic Missile has been one of the most iconic and most successful rides on the track.
And though the car has not made an appearance yet on the 2017 campaign, that statistic will change next Friday.
As part of the Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14, the famed yellow and black machine will appear on the track for the first time this season with Preston, Connecticut’s Max Zachem behind the wheel.
Zachem will have the chance to compete with some of the best the Whelen Modified Tour has to offer in the 35-lap shootout, sitting behind the wheel of the symbolic ride.
“The opportunity to drive for Bob Garbarino, for me — it’s like winning the lottery,” Zachem said. “The iconic v4 with the beautiful yellow and black paint — there’s just no better icon in all of modified history.”
Over the last two years, the 24-year-old has come onto the scene on the Whelen Modified Tour. Zachem has come close to visiting Victory Lane on multiple ocassions, including a career best finish of second in the Thompson 125 in June of 2016.
In six races on the tour so far this year, Zachem has finished inside the top five three times. His best finish of the season came at Thompson in the Icebreaker — a third-place finish after a late charge to the front of the pack.
Last year, Jimmy Blewett drove the car full-time and returned it to Victory Lane at Stafford in August. And the car is also no stranger to success at the 1.058-mile ‘Magic Mile’. Recently, its success at Loudon has included a victory by Todd Szegedy in July of 2015.
As a car owner at NHMS, Bob Garbarino has seven career victories.
Zachem will pilot the car with his father, Ken Zachem, listed as the owner for the Friday shootout. He will pilot his own family No. 20 ride on Saturday as part of the championship points Nor’easter 100.
“As car owner of both the No. 4 and the No. 20, our team will represent the legacy of the missile with the utmost pride on the big stage of Loudon,” Ken Zachem said.
For Max, the 35-lap race will allow him to give everything he has right from the drop of the green flag, not holding back because of the short distance.
“The shootout is like running a Saturday night race at your local short track,” Zachem said. “You have the 35 laps at the superspeedway of modified racing to give it all you have to try and beat the best modified drivers in our current era.”
“I think he is a good clean driver on the tour with some talent,” Garbarino added. “He called me and asked me if I was interested in running the race and I wasn’t. But I told him to come by and pick up the car. I’m trying to help him out.”
The young modified star is just thankful to have the opportunity to sit behind the wheel and will be looking to make the most of it.
“I can’t thank all the men and women behind the scenes enough — they make this dream happen,” Zachem said. “I also have to thank those on my No. 20 team. They are the unsung heroes that make everything possible for me to get behind the wheel of both of the cars.”
Zachem and the rest of the all-stars on the unified Whelen Modified Tour will compete on the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday at 2 p.m.
Then, on Saturday, the Whelen Modified Tour will compete in the seventh championship points race of the season, the Nor’easter 100, at 1 p.m.
CREDIT: NASCAR Home Tracks