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Gary Scelzi Four-Time NHRA Champion Schools His Sons About Racing
Dominic Scelzi races in the Restricted 600 Class
Father and son Gary and Giovanni Scelzi
Gary Scelzi Motorsports use K&N oil filters and air cleaners
At the close of the '07 season, four-time NHRA Drag Racing Champion Gary Scelzi, from Fresno, California, sort of retired. "Maybe I'll come back out one day and maybe I won't. I don't want to say one-way or the other, because who knows what the future will hold?" With that the 49-year-old father of Dominic and Giovanni, leaves the door slightly ajar for a possible come back someday.
Giovanni and Dominic Scelzi
Giovanni Scelzi won his first race at the age of six
During his reign Scelzi was one of the most popular drag racers in the sport's history. His exploits and accomplishments in both Top Fuel and Funny Cars are now the stuff of legends. But, for now Scelzi says he's content focusing on his family, which includes helping his brothers full-time with their rapidly expanding truck body manufacturing business.
"My family has sacrificed a lot to allow me to chase my dream," said Scelzi. "Because of their support, I've accomplished everything I've set out to do in drag racing and so much more. Now it's time for me to watch my kids grow up and to be there for them every day. It's time to hold my wife Julie's hand and tell her I love her every night."
We recently caught up with Scelzi to get an update on how his two sons racing season went.
"This was Dominic's third year in the Restricted 600 Class. Now, he was fast from the beginning, but what happened this year, from years past, was that he learned how to be consistent and he learned to watch for other driver's weaknesses. He quit trying to win the race on the first lap. He also learned what type of car he liked. He really started paying attention to set-ups, loose and tight car indications, stagger, all those sorts of important details," explains Scelzi.
"Once we were on the same page it did not matter where he started, or where he qualified, that boy was going straight to the front. At Plaza Park, Dominic won eight out of 15 races, and his worst finish was a fifth, without a single DNF. Now that Dominic is in the Super 600's we told him that it could take a year before he wins. Guys in their 20 and 30's are not going to move over when a 12 year-old kid tries to pass them. Yet, it only took Dominic four races to win his first Super 600 race in Lemoore, California. It's really hard for me to talk about it because he is my son, and all parents brag about their kids, but right now, every week, both my boys simply amaze me."
"Giovanni, unlike Dominic, never raced go-carts, or anything else for that matter. But again, right from the beginning, he was fast and finished in the top five every week, normally there were 16-20 cars starting in the main. With me not yet knowing how good of a driver he was going to be, we were the only ones left running a KT100 Yamaha, two-stroke. The hot ticket was the Briggs and Stratton animal motor. Once he got that, it was just a matter of time before he won his first race at six years."
"Gio just turned eight last November 28th and the age limit to move up to the Restricted 600's is 10-years old. I believe mentally he is more than ready to move up, he is just very small and only weighs 60 lbs. A 600 has to weigh around 750 lbs., so I think we are still a little challenged on strength. But, I am putting Dominic's last year's car together for Gio to start practicing," says Scelzi laughing out loud.
When we asked Scelzi why he believed his two acorns fell so close to the Christmas tree, whether it was genetics, environment, or a combination of both, he had this to say.
"When I was a kid growing up, my parents were not into racing at all. But I wanted to race to the drinking fountain, race to the cafeteria, race anywhere I could go. Dominic seems to be of the same mind. He and his brother have raced die cast slot cars, bicycles, anything they can get their hands on. So, I'd say it's a little of both."
"We've had a great relationship with K&N over the last five years, from winning our first Ford Focus National USAC championship, down to the kid's Mini Sprints. We use the oil filters and air cleaners. We have always used K&N air cleaners, even before we had a relationship with K&N. It's something Gary Scelzi Motorsports values and hopes to continue for a long time to come."
"In the coming season we are going to try all kinds of things, shock location, wings, a lot of aerodynamic stuff, and now that Dominic is in an Unlimited Class, dad gets to dig in his bag of tricks to find more power."
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K&N Engineering, Inc., with headquarters in Riverside, California, has been the world's leader in performance filter technology since 1969, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets. K&N is heavily involved in nearly every form of motorsports from off-road and powersports to drag racing, stock cars and road racing. For more information about K&N Filters, please contact K&N Engineering, Inc., P.O. Box 1329, Riverside, CA 92502-1329, (800) 213-4182 for a dealer near you, (800) 858-3333 for technical service/questions, (951) 826-4001 Fax, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.knfilters.com.
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