A young man from Preston is tearing it up on a NASCAR Circuit with a group of firefighters helping him along the way.
Max Zachem, 23, is one of the top drivers on the Whelan Modified Tour, but he said he owes his success to a team of volunteers who never fold under pressure.
With every lap, the pressure builded in Stafford Springs as the latest Whelean Modified Tour race neared the checkered flag on Monday.
On pit row, Zachem's crew was desperately trying to will the driver to a top ten finish. It’s a tough job, but one worth every drop of sweat.
"The chills go through your spine when it's over and things go right,” Gardner Lake Fire Chief Jim Savalle said.
The team accomplishes the goal as the number 20 car crossed the finish line in seventh place. Despite a shoe string budget, no one was surprised by the finish.
“A great group of people, they have a head on their shoulders,” Zachem said.
The difficulties at the track were nothing compared to what some Zachem's teammates encounter on a daily basis. Many of the pit crew members are also volunteer fire fighters.
"It's something that's really rewarding at the end of the day and it really makes you feel good going home at the end of the day knowing that you made a difference,” West Redding Fire Assistant Chief Scot Sanford said.
Sanford and Savalle volunteer at the track because they love it. Their time at the race track also helps to spread the word that the state desperately needs more volunteers.
“We just need blood flowing through your veins and the inspiration to want to help others,” Savalle said.
Zachem spreads the message by displaying ads on his car for Fire Chiefs Association and Volunteer Workforce Solutions. These organizations work to recruit more volunteers for local fire departments.
“All we want to do is inspire people to join their local volunteer fire company,” Savalle said.
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