Myrtle Beach Speedway General Manager Steve Zacharias is part of a family deeply embedded in the racing world, particularly in the Modified battles of the Northeast. Zacharias may have traded in his own firesuit for keys to the 0.538-mile oval near the Grand Strand, but he still occasionally has the itch to strap back into the race car.
Zacharias will scratch that itch this weekend at Martinsville Speedway (VA), entering the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. While the Myrtle Beach 400 each November at Zacharias’ track is unquestionably a crown jewel of Late Model Stock racing, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete in the discipline’s biggest and richest race.
“This race, since I came from Modifieds to Myrtle Beach and started working at the race track, I took to all the teams, all the drivers and all these unique racetracks,” Zacharias told Speed51. “Since I started with Late Model stuff, I’ve come to this race every year. To be in the race would be a dream come true.”
Zacharias has no illusions of grandeur of competing with the likes of Lee Pulliam, Peyton Sellers, Josh Berry and other Late Model Stock greats for $32,000 and a grandfather clock on Saturday, October 5. However, he does believe he has a car capable of making the feature field if he can adapt quickly enough to the machine after open testing at Martinsvillle last Thursday.
“AK Performance put together a great piece,” said Zacharias. “I’m not a veteran in the Late Model world, so I’m doing my part to show what the car is capable of doing. This track is unique in itself, so it’s a challenge right now. We’re working through it, getting plenty of laps. I feel confident. We’re in the mid-pack, which is where I expected t0 be.
“We’re not trying to win the race or anything. We just want to make the race, complete all the laps, and call it a successful ValleyStar 300. We’re in a happy medium of having fun but also wanting to make the race.”
Zacharias will be honoring a fallen friend and former racer at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Terry Evans died from injuries sustained in a highway accident in July 2017. Zacharias’ car bears Evans’ traditional car number, 35, with Evans’ name written within the numerals.
Evans’ passing presented an opportunity for Zacharias to race that year in Evans’ Super Truck. Since then, Zacharias hasn’t been able to climb back into a race car due to his track obligations, but Martinsville offers a chance for Zacharias to race again while honoring Evans’ memory.
“I grew up racing. Since I was five years old, I was driving something. I grew up that way and it has always been in my blood. After Terry’s passing, we drove his Super Truck. Unfortunately, it got me back hooked again. In my position, I’m not capable of going to a lot of places. The one place I could go where there’s no bias and I don’t have to work is right here. It’s the time of year where we slow down at the track, so I have the time.
“Since his passing, I do everything I can to keep his name alive. He was a great friend and a great race car driver. He won a Southeast Limited race right before his passing and won the Super Truck race right before he died. I do everything I can to keep his name alive. All the members of Myrtle Beach Speedway love each other. We’re a tight family. When one of our family members gets hurt, injured, or we lose them, it goes deep.”
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is October 4-5 at Martinsville Speedway. Speed51 will provide coverage throughout the weekend of the event. For more information, visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Myrtle Beach Speedway has two races remaining on its 2019 schedule, including the Myrtle Beach 400 on November 15-16. For more information about that event, visit www.myrtlebeachspeedway.com.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo