For the Preston, CT driver it was back to basics for his sophomore season on the Whelen Modified Tour. He went back to his original number (#20) as well as his caliber of driving. See, Max started his racing career in 2000 at the Little T and accomplished 10 Championships, with over 70-wins and his trophy room at home nests close to 250 trophies. So to say Max knows how to win and take home championships is an understatement.
It didn’t last long before Zachem moved up to the Legend Cars for five years and accumulated 3 Championships, 20 plus wins, he was virtually taking victories from Maine to Georgia. After his five-year stint it in the Legends it was time for Max to move up to the open wheel Modifieds
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was Zachem’s new home. If you have a chance to talk to Max in the pit area or even away from the track, you can see how he handles himself. With that, it rubbed off and Max was named and presented with the “Sportsman of the Year” award in 2011 in the VMRS.
It didn’t take long for Zachem to get familiarized with his modified. In 2012. He was named “Most Improved Driver” in the series. Zachem started to gel on and off the track and the fans noticed his popularity as they voted him “Most Popular Driver” in 2013.
Max started building his resume in the VMRS as in his 4 years there his accumulated 13 top 5’s along with 37 top 10 finishes. With his hard work, he never finished out of the top ten in points in his stay in the VMRS.
The MPZ Motorsports Team is entering their second season on the Whelen Modified Tour. Max’s rookie season had its ups and downs but his outcome had him finish 12th in driver points and 13th in Owner Points. His hard work paid off in his rookie season as he was awarded the Hoosier Tire Top New Team.
If you attended last years “Turkey Derby” at the Wall Stadium Speedway, Max started to show what he was made out of as a driver. He’s quick moves and that touch of aggressiveness placed him in the main. The outcome had a smile on his face and excitement that was building for this season.
The season started at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. He remained confident and it showed as he placed 16th after time trails. With the Open Modified Tour event now history Max had himself quit a day. Max was in contention all event and held his own with the who’s who of the Whelen Modified Tour. As the checkered fell on the event, Zachem finished 12th and was on the lead lap, which itself was an accomplishment as early race leader Ryan Preece was picking off cars one by one putting them a lap down.
His Thompson finish was what was in the plans for his team. His goal coming into his sophomore season was to be in contention and run and complete all the laps. “First, you must finish in order to finish first’, commented Zachem. And on this day he was indeed in contention and completed what he set his mind to do on this day.
Max has set a long term goal and within 5 years would like to be behind the wheel of a top notch Modified Team as well as to be in contention for the Championship, and being in contention means winning races and that’s what he is looking to do.
Every driver has that one racing story or event that sticks out and for Max, it was pulling onto the half-mile oval under the lights at “Thunder Valley”.
Zachem’s 2016 assault on the Whelen Modified Tour has Kenneth Zachem (Dad) Car Owner and Crew Chief Shawn Ruszczyk leading the charge. Billy The Kid horsepower sits under the hood of his Troyer Chassis. Gracing the panels of his white Chevrolet as sponsors for this year are MPZ Motorsports, Lu-Mac’s Package Store, VWS, Doug Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair, CLN, New England Race Fuels, Pro System and Joe Gibbs Race Driven Oil.
When talking to Zachem, he is quick to point out his crew and all they do for him at the shop as well as at the track. This year’s crew includes Dave and Dale Drake, Michael Tiberio, Scott Sanford, Steve Merritt, Jim Savalle, Glen Carchidi and Mike Grimaldi.
Ever driver has away time from the track and you can find Max painting and sandblast old military helicopters, Bowling, playing hoop and shooting pool. Plus, being a driver, how can you not say working on race cars is also in your weekly plans.
You can find Max on many Social Media outlets, you can go to his Facebook page at MPZ Motorsports or on Twitter @maxzachem.
Story by Alan Piquette
Photos supplied by MPZ Motorsports