One of the longest-standing driver/team relationships on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has come to an end. Two-time NWMT champion Donny Lia, the familiar face behind the wheel of the distinctive, yellow “Mystic Missile” No. 4 since 2007, has parted ways with team owner Bob Garbarino and will pursue other options for the 2015 racing season.
Lia informed Speed51.com of his decision in a phone interview.
"It's something I was thinking about for a long time," Lia told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I told Bob about it a few weeks ago, but we sat down (recently) and made it official."
The 33-year-old driver from Jericho, NY, has raced for Garbarino on and off since 2007, but decided that it was time to make a change and try something different. He isn’t quite sure of what that “something different" is at this point and as of now the 17-time NWMT winner has no plans for the 2015 racing season.
"Right now I have no plans and nothing in the works," he said. “If something comes along, that’s great. If nothing comes along then that's okay too. It's just one of those deals where you need to make a change and you're not even sure what that change is, but you just feel like you need to make a change."
Lia is a two-time NWMT champion (2007 and 2009) with both championships coming with the Mystic Missile team. The duo also won 12 career races, including wins at Bristol, New Hampshire, Thompson, and Stafford during their tenure together. Lia said he is very grateful for everything Garbarino and the entire Mystic Missile team has done for him during their time together.
"Bob has always been supportive of me," he said. "He's been a guiding figure of my life. And that won't change. I could never thank Bob and Joan Garbarino, Greg Shroder, Richard Brustolon, and Jimmy Savage enough. Driving that car was an honor and a privilege that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They're always supportive of me and have always believed in me and you can't ask for much more than that from anybody whether they're car owners, friends, or family or anybody. That means more to me than any racing we could ever do together."
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.