SCELZI SERVES UP KUDOS FOR BRISTOL FRESNO, Calif. (May 13, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi finds it hard not to smile when it comes time to compete at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
SCELZI SERVES UP KUDOS FOR BRISTOL
FRESNO, Calif. (May 13, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi finds it hard not to smile when it comes time to compete at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. This weekend the picturesque drag strip hosts the eighth round of the 2008 NHRA series and Scelzi welcomes his return visit driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
The Fresno native has one Funny Car victory at Bristol (2005) and still holds the Funny Car top-speed record there of 329.26 mph, set in May 2005. Highlighting this weekend for him is the NHRA Circle Track Challenge on Saturday night at the paved half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway oval, where he'll compete against a handful of his NHRA peers in street stock cars – basic late-model passenger cars with roll cages.
"You know what, Bristol is one of my favorites," said Scelzi, who is currently 13th in the Funny Car rankings. "You're not going to find a more beautiful race track or a finer facility anywhere. It is typical Bruton Smith-style. I can't wait to see the new drag strip Bruton is building in Charlotte.
"The way the nitro engines echo off the mountains in Bristol is incredible, and when you come around the corner from the highway you can't miss that big glowing, green, giant spaceship with the neon lights around it, which surrounds the half-mile oval at the Speedway. It reminds me of the movie, 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' It's really something to see.
"The one thing I am going to miss this year," added Scelzi, "is driving my Monaco coach to Bristol from Indy and seeing all those beautiful horse ranches in Kentucky and Tennessee. It's a stunning drive, but this year I'm going to see it from the air because I'll be working at Scelzi Enterprises in Fresno all the way up until Thursday. I'm getting there late and flying out on Sunday night.
"Bristol is a great facility, especially after they redid the surface. Last year great times were posted under 130-degree track temperatures. So you know that the heat doesn't seem to affect this place. We're looking forward to having a great race track with two lanes of racing. It's a bitchin' place. We're ready to rock.
"Hopefully the Hadman car will do what we think it's going to do like it showed signs of doing a couple of weeks ago in Madison. Maybe we can get this Mopar/Oakley Dodge into victory lane."
Scelzi will race almost anything, so despite being a bit cautious about Saturday night's NHRA Circle Track Challenge, he's more than ready for it. "I'm not a big pavement fan," he admits. "I always like the dirt, even though I'm not very good at that either.
"I drove Bruton Smith's Suburban around the circle track with my kids a few years ago. There was a surprise birthday party up in Bruton's suite and I jumped into the Suburban and drove around the (24-30-degree) banked oval and that place is incredible. The only other thing I drove around there is the scooter with my son Dominic and it was unbelievable that the right peg actually almost scraped and the left side was about two feet off the bank. So I have no idea of what we're up against trying to keep these cars going around in a circle and trying to pass. I know it's exciting as hell when you watch it on television. I'm sure it's going to be even more exciting with a bunch of guys who don't know what they're doing."