Baer Field promoter hatches wacky idea for a race

Dave Muzzillo

One of Dave Muzzillo’s favorite things to do on weekdays around Baer Field Motorsports Park is starting conversations with, “What would you think if we tried this?”

And the track’s promoter and general manager will keep throwing things out until either he convinces his friends or they give up and call his wife to calm him down.

This time there’s no calming him down.

On Sunday afternoon, Muzzillo posted his grandest scheme yet on the track’s Facebook page, something he’s calling the inaugural “Grocery Getter Classic,” a 24-hour endurance race that will be held from Noon, Sept. 22 until Noon, Sept. 23. The craziest part? He wants 500 cars competing on the 1/2-mile asphalt track.

“I’m always thinking,” Muzzillo said. “I have to keep thinking to keep this entertaining. I love this. This is my high. I love putting smiles on people’s faces. Nowadays you have to think outside the box, or you’re going to be left out of the box. These will all be street cars just like you’d take to the grocery.”

He’s selling this as more of an attempt at fun than competition because, with that many cars on the track, there won’t be a whole lot of speed or passing until the field thins out a bit. He’s expecting the full field to start out at around 15 to 20 miles per hour, and it might reach as high as 40 miles per hour near the end. Muzzillo compares the racing to getting through bumper-to-bumper Chicago traffic.

“I would say the only time we might have any trouble would be the 23rd hour when it’s coming down,” Muzzillo said. “All this is about fun and a boatload of cash. I’m hoping this is the greatest idea.”

Depending on the number of entries, Muzzillo plans on awarding $150,000 for a 500-car field, with the car completing the most laps earning $50,000 to win. Half the field will receive money back.

There are plenty of rules. Only strictly stock street cars and vans (no trucks) are allowed, with standard tires, gas tanks and interiors. All vehicles must be 22 feet in length or less, all side and rear glass and head and tail lights must be removed and the bumpers cannot be reinforced. Each car must have a working AM/FM radio so track officials can communicate with every driver.

Entry forms will be posted at at midnight Friday night, limited to the first 500 returned forms with the $500 entry fee. Track positioning will be based on when entry forms are received. So far, Muzzillo has heard from drivers in California, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and California, and he expects as many as 600 cars to try getting in. The Facebook page already has nearly 1,000 shares and 172,000 views.

One reason the race will be held in late-September is because other area tracks will be closed for the season, and Muzzillo can use their transponders to supplement his own system to track all the cars.

He’s also estimating the need for 50,000 gallons of gasoline, nearly 100 workers, plenty of needed extra parking and very few caution flags. There will be jam cars with reinforced bumpers to push cars with problems off the track until they can get repaired. Everyone will have to sign a waiver, but the track insurance should cover everything.

“If we see a guy out there intentionally wrecking people, then we disqualify him and get him off the track,” he said. “We’re not going to put up with that. We want this to be fun and enjoyable so everybody can have a great time.”