In late 2010, Zach Myers was so looking forward to getting up in front of his family, fellow racers and others from the local racing community and walking on stage to receive his trophy as that season's NASCAR Charger point champion at Holland NASCAR Motorsports Complex.
The problem was he didn't make it to the championship banquet. Instead, he laid in a hospital bed just miles away.
His family accepted the honor on his behalf but then provided him with some much needed medicine when they brought the trophy to his hospital bedside.
Myers was involved in a work-related all terrain vehicle accident just two days before the banquet, suffering injuries that would keep him from getting behind the wheel of his race car all last season. He will return to competition Sunday during Holland's 2012 season opener.
"I work for a company that has gas wells and I've got to check on the wells so as part of my job I ride an ATV to reach them," said Myers, 32, of East Concord. "On the day of my accident there was very high winds and I remember that several trees were down. The wind just flipped my vehicle and I was not going very fast.
"I suffered a broken nose and air in my brain and other injuries. I have two metal plates in my head. It wasn't pretty. If I wasn't wearing my helmet I would have been dead. I pretty much knew as soon as the accident happened that my racing was over for a long while."
Myers suffered some fairly severe and frequent headaches for about six months after the accident but those have now subsided for the most part.
After beginning his career in 1995 in the Enduro races at Holland, Myers raced in the NASCAR Chargers from 1997 to 2002 before taking a sabbatical due to a growing family. He returned as a NASCAR Charger competitor in 2009.
Myers raced a 112-inch wheelbase Chevy Chevelle in 2009 and finished tenth in points, earning three top five finishes. He knew he had to upgrade his equipment if he hoped for further success and after selling the Chevelle he entered 2010 with a 108-inch wheelbase Chevy Malibu.
"Changing to the Malibu was everything because in 2010 I won four out of nine races and just beat out my good friend Ted Welshans for the Charger title," said Myers.
What does Myers plan for this season that lies ahead?
"I do not believe that I will have any problems in the car due to my accident," Myers said. "Over the last 12 years or so I've seen a big change in this division. Before we ran 15-lappers and you couldn't use a lot of patience in trying to get to the front because there was no time. Now we run 30 laps and there is so much more time to be patient. There's a lot more patience on the part of all the competitors. We get about 20 cars in our division and that's good for a asphalt track."
Myers' goal is to defend his title so to speak, albeit a year late, and should that happen he doesn't plan on anyone else coming up to the stage this November except himself.
*This weekend the North Tonawanda History Museum will host its New York Heritage Weekend Saturday through Monday. This year's event is dedicated to Jim Hurtubise.
The North Tonawanda native had a storied career in national open wheel racing circles. Among his career highlights was being the Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year in 1960. He broke the Indy Speedway track record by nearly two miles per hour that year. He also won several USAC races on dirt. In 1964 he was badly burned in an accident at Milwaukee. He continued to race for several years after that and died in 1989 at age 56.
He is a member of both the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
A classic car show honoring Hurtubise will be held Saturday from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at the Manhattan Street municipal parking lot. Monday has been declared Jim Hurtubise Day in North Tonawanda and a block of roadway on Oliver Street between Tremont Street and Sweeney Street has been named Jim "Herk" Hurtubise Way.
For more information, call the museum at 213-0554 or visit www.nthistorymuseum.org. The museum is at 54 Webster Street.
*Last Saturday night at Dunn Tire Raceway Park, Bobby Holmes pulled off the daily double winning both the Casey's TQ Midget Racing Series event in the Vince Christiano Sr. owned TQ machine and the Sportsman headliner driving the Frank Booker Jr. Racing entry.
*Last weekend the local racing scene could have been dubbed "Racing Seniors Weekend" as two drivers who are 73 years old won their receptive division's feature races on Friday. Dick Kluth won the Sportsman headliner at Wyoming County International Speedway. Dick Wilkinson took the Fireball class at Ransomville Speedway.