Reunited - And It Feels So Good by Matthew Dillner and Mike Twist
Hossfeld Returns to Seat of Mystic Missile Mod Tour Ride
But there was no name on the door or above it on the legendary car owned by Bob and Joan Garbarino. The car that has had drivers like Bugsy Stevens, Ed Flemke, Sr., Satch Worley, Jerry Marquis, Chuck Hossfeld, and most recently Donny Lia in its seat just didn’t have anyone lined up to wheel it for the upcoming NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.
A few days after the show though, that all changed as Hossfeld signed on to reunite with the team and as its new “old” driver for the 2008 racing season.
“They were waiting on what Donny decided to do,” said Hossfeld. “When he landed this truck ride, I think Bob was up in the air on if he wanted to continue racing or not. I’ve maintained a friendship with him since I drove with them in the past. It’s a great fit for me because a couple of my friends like Bob Mueller, the crew chief, and Greg Almond, the spotter and I are still great friends. There are a bunch of great guys on that crew and I’m really excited to be with them.”
The move to re-unite Hossfeld and Garbarino put to rest rumors that the car owner may retire after the dream season of 2007. Last year, Donny Lia took the Missile to
The Mystic Missile at The Speedway Expo. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Something wasn’t just right about the #4 Mystic Missile Modified as it sat on display at the recent Speedway Expo show.
The car was as sharp as ever with its signature yellow paint matching the large inflatable Sunoco logo perched behind it. It was nicely detailed – no dirt or track rash anywhere to be found. It looked every bit like the notch-notch winning Modified ride that it is.
victory lane six times on the way to landing Garbarino his first NASCAR Modified title in 46 years of racing..
“When the season ended I think Bob was just enjoying the championship and not putting too much thought into racing. He did a little vacationing with his wife and with his friends. As it got closer to the season, that is when we talked. I gave Bob a call and asked him if he was still racing. He said he hadn’t made a decision yet. I put it point blank and said ‘if you do decide to race and you have any interest in me, I would love be your driver’ and I left it at that.”
And so the partnership was formed again. It is one that feels like home for Hossfeld in so many ways.. He is friends with several of the key members of the team, a long-time Troyer supporter and has maintained a friendship with Garbarino since they split after the 2004 season.
Even more ironic, when Speed51.com contacted Hossfeld to discuss the return to the Mystic Missile, he was driving to Atlanta Motor Speedway with the man who drove the Missile last year, Donny Lia. Hossfeld and Lia have become great friends as well over the past few years. In fact, Chucky was one of Lia’s invited guests at the awards banquet at Mohegan Sun in December. But the irony doesn’t stop there. Hossfeld had short stint in the Craftsman Truck ranks with Roush Racing in 2001. While Hossfeld is comfortable knowing he may never return to those ranks, he is hopeful that Lia will find success in NASCAR’s big leagues and will be there as a friend to help along the way.
Hossfeld has most recently driven his own #22 Modified at Florida Speedweeeks. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
“I’m going to Atlanta with him,” said Hossfeld from the passenger seat. “I’ve been in a lot of the situations like the one he is in right now. If I can recall some of the mistakes I have made and hopefully I can save him a mistake or two. He wants to make a living in racing and is doing the right things to make that happen. He has an opportunity that with some success can lead to something great for him. If I can even help him with one small thing there that would be great. Its funny how we’ve had similar paths in some ways but just in different time frames.
“We always raced against each other and were buddies but we’ve actually become pretty good friends because we have a lot in common. We have a lot of fun together. I have a lot of respect for what Donny has been able to do. He has handled himself well in racing and life. He’s got my respect. He’s a likeable guy and a good person. It was cool that Donny invited me to that banquet because I had a really good time. It was really great seeing so many friends of mine work together and capitalize on a championship. Even though I wasn’t a part of it I was very happy for everyone involved.
“For me, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will probably be a Modified driver forever. I couldn’t be presented with a better chance to show my talents than to be with a Championship team and car and enjoy myself. I couldn’t be happier.
And Hossfeld has shown those talents before, both in his own cars and behind the wheel of the #4
car. He came oh so close to being the first driver to win a title for Garbarino in 2003, finishing second to Todd Szegedy.
After the success with the Missile things have been very up and down for Hossfeld. He’s gone from Don Barker’s #50 ride, to the Hillbilly Motorports #79. Although he has found success running his own Modified from time to time in the RoC ranks and during Speedweeks in Florida, success on the Tour has been harder to come by. This time around, Hossfeld feels it will be different.
“Racing is not easy. It’s very competitive. The guy and teams that are good at it are talented as hell and deserve the credit. It take a big commitment. It’s chemistry and a big puzzle and without every piece of the puzzle the fit just won’t work.
“As you grow you mature. In life and in general you mature as you get older. I think that I can appreciate more of what it takes to have a car that is as dominant as Bob’s was last year. The big thing is that I am going to be focused on doing my job to 100-percent of my abilities and letting the chips fall where they may.
“We had a lot of success racing together and a lot of fun at the same time. That is one of the reasons we are very excited. The equipment is great. Greg Schroeder, who takes care of the cars is one of the sharpest guys out there. They have the full package with the Hutter Engines. They have great equipment and great preparation and now I have to do my job as a driver. I think we will have the results right away.
“My goal is to get those guys their second championship and get my first. I am going to do everything in my power to make that happen this year.”
Hossfeld’s march towards that goal will begin at Thompson International Speedway’s Icebreaker on April 6th.