Giovanni Scelzi has been in the sport of auto racing for his entire life. As the son of former NHRA champion Gary Scelzi, he was carried to race tracks even before his first birthday. And now, the second generation racer appears to be bound for his own time in the racing spotlight as he prepares for a full season behind the wheel of a car prepared by highly successful Bill McAnally Racing on the ARCA Series West as well as other selected pavement races.
On Sunday night, the 18-year-old native of Fresno, CA found his way to victory lane in a wild Pro Late Model feature at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. It was the noted dirt racer’s first win in a pavement Late Model machine. That successful effort will serve as a lead in to the ARCA Menards East Series event to be held on that same track on Monday evening.
Sunday’s victory had been preceded by two top-10 results on the previous two nights in the World Series of Asphalt at the Barbourville, Florida facility.
There is no doubting the young Scelzi’s talent. This is the youngest driver to win in the World of Outlaws Nos Energy Sprint Car Series when he took the checkered at Pennsylvania’s historic Williams Grove Speedway at the age of 16. He then went on to become the youngest Sprint Car pilot to win at the legendary Knoxville(IA) Raceway when he captured a $5,000-to-win Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions race at the age of 17.
Scelzi triumphed on Sunday night in a crash-marred contest at New Smyrna that saw only four cars finish. After missing a shift on the final restart with just four laps left in the feature, the No. 16 car driven by the Toyota Racing Development rising star fell back to third. However, when the two lead machines tangled on the last lap and driver Hayden Sprague was penalized for rough driving, the somewhat surprised Scelzi, who had managed to avoid numerous crashes throughout the 35-lap affair, pulled his car into victory lane.
“I don’t even know what you call that,” Scelzi said in his winner’s interview. “I thought we actually had a shot at a win there and I missed a shift. I don’t even know what to say. We had so many good cars but everyone kept crashing. This is pretty cool. I mean, you call it a win and you take them anyway you can get them. There might be an asterisk next to this one but it is what it is.”
Winning in whatever form is nothing new to Scelzi. He scored a notable WoO Sprint Cars triumph when he passed NASCAR star and frequent Sprint Car competitor Kyle Larson late in the going to capture the Patriot Nationals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in the shadows of the Charlotte Motor Speedway in May of 2019. That was his second career win on that prestigious series with the victory mentioned earlier at Williams Grove having been the first.
The experience gained from the past three nights on pavement will no doubt benefit this young driver as he takes his first real test with his new team and in his new venture as the World Series of Asphalt continues with the Skip’s Western Outfitters 175 ARCA Menards East Series race at New Smyrna Speedway.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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