Brainerd: Gary Scelzi preview

SCELZI AND SON TO SHARE BONDING EXPERIENCE IN BRAINERD FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 7, 2007) - Four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi, who announced his hiatus from the sport at the end of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season, will bring...

SCELZI AND SON TO SHARE BONDING EXPERIENCE IN BRAINERD

FRESNO, Calif. (Aug. 7, 2007) - Four-time NHRA world champion Gary Scelzi, who announced his hiatus from the sport at the end of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season, will bring his 10-year-old son Dominic to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this weekend for a long-overdue "bonding experience," he says.

Dominic has been competing in a Restricted 600cc Mini-Sprint on Plaza Park Raceway's oval in Visalia, Calif., this season, while his car-owner and full-time cheering squad dad has been battling it out on the nation's premier quarter-miles.

"I'm taking Dominic with me on this trip, without his mother (Julie) or his little brother Giovanni," says Scelzi, who stands sixth in Funny Car points as the next phase of the Countdown to the Championship begins for the top eight after the next two events. "This could be one of the last trips to Brainerd for me, and Dominic starts school soon. Also, it's my birthday on Saturday.

"We haven't done this kind of trip together since I was testing a Funny Car for Schumacher about three or four years ago in Indy when Dominic and I were the only ones in the family who went. We had such a great time and we haven't been able to do it again.

"Giovanni is a little bit young, being 5 years old, but Dominic now can help me pack the parachutes and we can get him to maybe help wash some parts and to start to learn what's going on.

"There's always that chance that I may not be back at Brainerd again. So, I think it's going to be a great time for us to bond together, have Dad cook in the motor home, have to get up at a certain time to catch airplanes and all those things. I'm sure we're going to tire him out, but I'm really looking forward to spending the time with my son one on one."

Scelzi looks forward to an additional bonding experience this weekend, with a new set of crew chiefs, Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, who will share tuning duties on Scelzi's Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T and teammate Jack Beckman's MTS Dodge Charger R/T. Okuhara and Shuler were assigned to tune both cars following former Mopar/Oakley Dodge crew chief Mike Neff's announcement that he was moving to John Force Racing in 2008 as a driver.

"Obviously we've had a major change at Schumacher Racing. I won't call it a shake-up, it's just a change," Scelzi says. "I'm going to miss Mike Neff beating on the hood of my car, but I'm also going to go into this race and I'm going to show Todd and Phil why this team won a championship (Funny Car in 2005), and I think everybody on this team is going to give it their all and then some.

"We're in the middle of this Countdown and I don't want to lose any momentum. I think if we go in there with good, positive attitudes and a strong work ethic, that I know we have, good things are going to come from it.

"I think the only way you can approach something like this is in a positive way and that's the way I'm going to look at it."

Scelzi's past Brainerd results include a 1998 win in Top Fuel, and Funny Car runner-ups in 2004 and 2006. He was low qualifier in Brainerd in Top Fuel in 1999, and in Funny Car in 2003.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Gary Scelzi , Jack Beckman , Mike Neff