MOPAR/OAKLEY DODGE PILOT SCELZI SET FOR HISTORIC CHANGES AT MOPAR MILE-HIGH NATIONALS FRESNO, Calif. (July 7, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion and 2006 Mopar Mile-High Nationals Funny Car titlist Gary Scelzi is set to...
MOPAR/OAKLEY DODGE PILOT SCELZI SET FOR HISTORIC CHANGES AT MOPAR MILE-HIGH NATIONALS
FRESNO, Calif. (July 7, 2008) - Four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion and 2006 Mopar Mile-High Nationals Funny Car titlist Gary Scelzi is set to compete on a 1000-ft. dragstrip (instead of 1320 ft.) for the first time at this weekend's 2008 edition of the Mopar Mile-Highs at Bandimere Speedway.
Scelzi, driving the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, lauds the NHRA for the immediate steps it has taken to help improve the safety in a sport where Funny Car speeds have exceeded 330 mph in recent years and following the fatal accident which took the life of Scott Kalitta in Englishtown, N.J., June 21.
"I'm very proud to see that NHRA has taken immediate action starting at Denver (to shorten the track from 1320 ft. to 1000 ft. for the nitro cars)," said Scelzi, who is No. 12 in the Funny Car point standings, just 54 points short of the top 10. "I don't know what their reaction is going to be for Seattle and Sonoma (the two events immediately following the Mopar Mile-High Nationals outside of Denver this weekend), but I think we should all band together and applaud the NHRA for trying to make things safer.
"There's not a lot of downforce in Denver, obviously (because of the altitude). We try to run these cars harder and the cars don't stop as well; the parachutes don't hit as hard because the air is so thin. I commend Bandimere Speedway for doing whatever it takes to put mile-per-hour clocks in at 1000 ft.
"Bandimere Speedway has been one of the toughest race tracks for me in my whole professional career," said Scelzi, "but we finally broke through there in 2006 and had a great time. It is a lot like Gainesville (Fla.) and a lot like Englishtown (N.J.). It's been around forever and has a lot of prestige.
"There is no better racing family than the Bandimeres who always take good care of the racers. Everyone in the family works countless hours to take care of the race track, and they take it to heart. It's the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, but it's Bandimere Speedway and they're very proud of it, and I'm very proud to be a part of it.
"Sometimes it's hot, it always rains at least a little bit, and it's just a totally different combination than you run anywhere else. It plays havoc on the tuners, it plays havoc on the drivers. It's tough up there on the mountain because there's not much air, but I feel healthy, strong and determined, and I am ready for the mountain."
Scelzi will be eyeing a move up into the top 10 in the standings in time for the Countdown to the Championship which begins for the top 10 following the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend.