Brockton, MA — Basketball was John Zych Jr.’s first love. A standout at Blackstone-Millville Regional High in Massachusetts and a two-year letterman at New York’s Lemoyne College, the 25-year old is about to start his third year in the Northeastern Midget Association.
Happy with a new motor (a Mazda from Circle Performance Machine) after a test at Seekonk, John and his car-owner dad, John Sr., are aiming at the season opener May 23 at Monadnock, MA. “Without any major problems we plan on making every race,” says Zych.
After five top-10s in 17 starts last year, they’re bent on improvement. They have set a top 10 finish as a “realistic goal” in some very heavy company. “With so many good drivers and so much good equipment in NEMA, everybody is on their game,” he says.
After a Memorial Day Weekend crash at Monadnock, Zych spent much of 2008 chasing down problems. The final results – an 11th in the driver standings and 10th for his dad in the owner standings – was “disappointing.”
Still, he says, “when we were struggling we made a lot of changes and we learned a lot about the chassis (a Hawk).” The winner of the last year’s Ralph Miller Memorial Award for Outstanding and Continuing Perseverance is confident those lessons are about to pay dividends.
What does Zych, a Sales Representative for Hershey Chocolate in Syracuse, NY, carry over from basketball? “One of the things you learn from playing sports is finding out what it takes to be good, to be competitive,” he answers. “Some people want it more than others and that’s the difference.”
Zych and his dad were always fans so racing seemed the place for him to take his competitive urges. “I always wanted to do it,” he says. “I finally convinced my dad. We went to Whip City Speedway and found something that looked affordable for us.” After winning 750cc Rookie of the Year, he scored his first win in the 1,200s in 2006 and also ran some in New York State.
They moved to NEMA with a car purchased formally driven by Greg Stoehr. The transition from dirt to asphalt has been “big.”
The car remains in Mendon, MA when John Sr. maintains the car. Zych has high praise for the help of the Seymours, just down the road in Marlboro, and Stoehrs.
Monadnock is the first of 17 races on the ’09 NEMA agenda.
NEMA NUGGETS…Seven drivers have carried an opening-day victory to the NEMA championship, Randy Cabral the last to do it last year. Two drivers – Bill Eldridge (1954, ’58) and Ben Seitz (2004-05) have done it twice. Others are Armond Holley (1976), Joey Coy (1991) and Drew Fornoro (1998)…NEMA’s 1984 season-opener was at Monadnock, Mike Seymour the winner…Star, Thompson and the late Westboro Speedways each hosted NEMA openers 11 times. Others on the list include Empire Speedway (Menands, NY), Medford (MA) Bowl, Norwood (MA) Arena and Plainville Stadium (CT), all long gone.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR