RacingNation.com

Racing Lost A Devoted Fan Last Week

Today is sad day as I found out my buddy Ilario (Larry) Fazzari from the Calderone Club restaurant in Milwaukee passed away unexpectedly Friday at the age of 57. I first met Larry about eleven years ago. My buddy came to me and said, “There’s this really cool restaurant downtown, the guys are Italian and are into racing and especially love Formula One!” Needless to say I had to check this place out. My first time there I met the Larry and we hit it off. However, anybody who met Larry hit it off. He was that type of guy. Dynamic personality, full of life.

Through Larry I got to know driver Dan Wheldon (center).  In the photo, Larry made sure we put the squeeze on "Danny" as he called him. Larry initially met Dan through his engineer Steve Erickson when he drove Indy Lights for PacWest Racing.  Whenever Dan was in town he always stopped in. Occasionally he even helped Larry behind the bar, Dan poured a very strong drink.   We lost Dan in October of 2011, and on Friday we lost Larry.  - Steve Zautke collection

Through Larry (left) I got to know driver Dan Wheldon (center). In the photo, Larry made sure we put the squeeze on “Danny” as he called him. Larry initially met Dan through his engineer Steve Erickson when he drove Indy Lights for PacWest Racing. Whenever Dan was in town he always stopped in. Occasionally he even helped Larry behind the bar, Dan poured a very strong drink. We lost Dan in October of 2011, and on Friday we lost Larry. – Steve Zautke collection

Larry was big guy, but that didn’t keep him from driving karts about twenty years ago. A kart racer pushing 200 pounds in his thirties doesn’t have much of a chance against 120lb teenagers, but he had a great time doing it. He loved to drive fast and the karting club in Dousman, WI was that outlet, as was his blood red Ducati motorcycle. He also did driver instruction at Road America and was motorsport enthusiast.

The Calderone Club is the place to be downtown, it is a classy bar but still has the hominess of a neighborhood tavern. The Fazzari brothers made a good team. Geno went to culinary school in New York and ran the kitchen, the food is fantastic, authentic Italian Larry ran the bar, mixing drinks, washing glasses, but never losing a beat in multiple conversations. You could stop in on any given evening and meet some of the biggest movers and shakers in town. Milwaukee Bucks players, politicians, corporate big wigs, you name it. However, everybody was on even terms, Larry introduced each person and nobody was a stranger. Then again, don’t wear a McLaren team jacket as my buddy found out. Some good-natured razzing came from across the bar as Larry who was a devoted Ferrari enthusiast good naturedly pestered my friend.

Every time the IndyCar Series was in town, it became a tradition to stop in on the Thursday before the race. A tradition built when the Calderone Club hosted some very successful block parties. A who’s who of motorsports is frequently in attendance, there’s a buzz when you walked in. Sadly it won’t be the same without Larry. I recommend you stop in, hoist one for Larry and say, “Salute, sarete perso, Ilario”

Share Button
The following two tabs change content below.
Steve Zautke
Steve Zautke, a Milwaukee, WI native, was raised in the sport of auto racing. His father, Bill, was a movie photographer that shot racing footage at tracks such as the Milwaukee Mile and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1960's and 1970's Steve's first professional job in racing was as an Emergency Medical Technician at tracks such as Angell Park and Hales Corners Speedway (1988-1991). Steve has also worked for the Milwaukee Mile as videographer, in media relations and historian (1993-2011). Steve also has worked as a reporter for Racing Information Systems (RIS) and has written features for 'Vintage Oval Racing' and 'Victory Lane' magazines. Most recently, Steve has written a book on Road America for Arcadia Publishing. ( http://www.amazon.com/Road-America-Nascar-Library-Collection/dp/1467111457 ) Steve co-hosts "Sparky's Final Inspection" a motorsports-based radio show with hosts, Steve "Sparky" Fifer and "NASCAR Girl" Summer Santana on Sports Radio 1250AM in Milwaukee and is also available on the internet at www.Sportradio1250.com. A member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Induction Committee, Steve follows all types of racing from the dirt tracks to Formula One.