Dave Muzzillo’s focus is very determined and always looking forward. As the owner, promoter and race director of the ICAR Top Speed Modified Tour, that focus is starting to reap rewards not only for the series itself, but for the competitors who compete in their 28th season of action.
The series came to life in the mid 80’s when a new, affordable car called an IMCA Modified was making waves around central Indiana. The car was half open wheel and half stock car. The cars started racing in Mt. Lawn Speedway in New Castle, Indiana.
With that success at Mt. Lawn, Dave Dayton formed the EMOD (Economy Modified Oval Division) traveling series and ran at Salem Speedway, Winchester Speedway, Anderson Speedway and Indianapolis Speedrome.
Fast forward to 2012, Wes & Crimson Parrish along with Weo and Connie Schweyer took over the series and changed the name to the Top Speed Modified Tour thanks to the title sponsor Top Speed Fabrication based out of Angola, Indiana.
Recently, Muzzillo, who owns Top Speed Fabrication, took over the series and is dedicating his time and efforts into it, and it is paying off.
“I feel real positive about it,” Muzzillo recently told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We are working on some big things and I am hoping it all works out. If it does, it will be great for Modified racing throughout the country.”
Muzzillo served as the race director for the series back in 1995 and is back in that role 19 years later. Back then he had some ideas of what he felt the series had to do to be successful back in his earlier tenure. Today, he is implementing those ideas and they are working.
“I wanted to do some the same thing back then that I am doing now. That is, it doesn’t matter if you have $50,000 or $500 in your car; everyone is equal when you come to race in the Top Speed Modified Tour,” Muzzilo said. “If I could run this series in 1995 like I am now, I couldn’t imagine where this series would be now.
“I try as hard as I can but racers are their worst enemies. You put them on a two-tire rule and you will get guys who will try to sneak four tires. I have a good staff and they stay on top of it. We watch it and a lot of racers will actually rat each other out, so that makes it easier.”
Chad Poole, current point leader, sees Muzzillo’s vision and said that they are doing everything they can to make it a level-playing field.
“You come to a race and everything has to be fair for everyone,” Poole said. “If you don’t like something, they will go and address it. We don’t get that back home where it is more of a ‘run what you brung’ style. There is nothing wrong with that, but we like to go out where everyone is on an equal page. If someone doesn’t like our shocks, they will come and check them. That is what is so cool about them.
“I think everyone is liking that. They are sending cars home. They are making people change things. If they want to race, they will have to change things to come and race with us. We are seeing 30-40 cars at most places. The competition is just so close where there isn’t more than a half a second between most of us.”
Poole also noted that the officials are friendly and are willing to work with the teams. They also see how hard Muzzillo is working to make the series successful. Especially in keeping a level playing field and keeping it affordable.
“The $400 to start sure isn’t hurting anything,” Poole said. “You don’t have to buy tires, which is nice. If you had a bad week one week, you can use your tires you had last week. So you are actually not making money, but not losing as much either as they keep it affordable. A lot of tracks don’t require a big motor or a trick setup. We are on standard stuff. There is nothing special, just an ordinary car.”
The series is attracting veteran drivers and young second generation drivers like Travis Eddy, son of seven-time ASA National Series champion Mike Eddy.
“It’s a really good series and they pay a good purse, which has attracted a lot of really good drivers,” Travis Eddy said. “The races have gotten so good that there are about 10 drivers who could win and it makes it good each week. They are a fun group of people to race with at each event.”
His famous father agrees.
“This is going back to where things started and this is a good thing for all of the Modified racers. It gives them a place to go and race along with making enough money to cover some of their expenses and it is working out great,” Mike Eddy said. “With the traveling they do and the tracks they visit, they get to race with the local guys to see how they stack up, which makes it better competition. Fans get to see a great show.”
Muzzillo has big plans for the future of the Top Speed Modified Tour. Some of those plans include attracting a major title sponsor to help raise the purse along with a 16-race schedule in eight different states.
He also feels that his series along with the Lucas Oil Modified Series are the two best Modified Series in the United States today.
“I think we both set the bar high enough where it is tough for someone else to come on board and start another series,” Muzzillo said. “We would like to have races anywhere east of the Mississippi River and we will let Lucas Oil have west of the Mississippi. Maybe we can meet sometime in the middle. Instead of north vs. south, let’s do east vs. west.”
Is Muzzillo issuing a challenge to the Lucas Oil Modified Series for a head-to-head matchup somewhere?
“It’s there…take it,” Muzzillo said with a smile. “Let’s see where we can go and do this.”
Story by: Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Midwest Editor/Director of Business. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Credit: Speed51.com