(May 2, 2021) By Alex Nieten, Fresno, CA … Known for chasing tacos and trophies across the country, Dominic Scelzi is narrowing his pursuit of the latter to the west coast this season, and he aims to make a redemptive statement to his competition in the NARC King of the West Fujitsu 410 Sprint Cars.
After traveling many states to face some of sprint car racing’s best over the last five years, the pilot of the Scelzi Enterprises number 41S is opting to race close to home in 2021. The timing of a key opportunity opening in his family business and an addition to his own family being on the way synced to make this an important year to stay in CA.
“It was kind of a now or never situation to be involved in the family business and really take the time to learn all the aspects of our company,” Scelzi offered. “And then at the end of November, completely separate from that decision of wanting to stay home, we found out my girlfriend and I are expecting our first child.”
While sticking to the left-coast will eliminate Dom’s usual eastern appearances, he still intends to spend plenty of time wheeling his red and white sprint car this year. The charismatic racer’s plans include an attempt at capturing his first King of the West championship, and with past troubles fueling him, Scelzi may be tough to stop.
In 2015 Scelzi’s bid for a title ended abruptly when injury intervened. With only a handful of remaining races, Scelzi had positioned himself favorably for the final stretch. The accident sidelined him and delivered a blow to the up and coming racer’s spirits.
“I actually had the points lead with about five or six races to go and I broke my back,” Scelzi reflected on his misfortunes in 2015. “And that took me out of the standings, which was really frustrating. We’d won two races, we’d run really well, and I feel like we were the most consistent of the three guys going for it with Carson Macedo, Bud Kaeding and myself … It was something that was frustrating because, at the time, I was pretty young and I felt like I had a lot of momentum going forward, and that really took a lot of wind out of my sails.”
A single DNF derailed Scelzi’s 2019 chances and served another tough pill to swallow. Aboard the Roth Motorsports number 83, Scelzi had a dominant KWS campaign. The Fresno native more than doubled his then-career win total by claiming a series-high five victories during the nineteen race season but finished the tour rounding out the points podium, a mere eleven points behind champ DJ Netto.
While his latest attempt concluded with disappointment, Scelzi’s performance provided data that may be of use in 2021 as he eyes his first NARC title to bury the sour memories of 2015 and 2019. Even though the nine-time NARC feature winner will be driving his own car instead of the Roth 83, Scelzi’s long connection with the Roth family has influenced the 41S program and contributed to Scelzi’s development.
The winning ways with Roth made for a great year, but as 2019 proved, earning the NARC title will require more than a collection of checkered flags. DJ Netto topped the standings at season’s end without a single tally in the win column, his steady finishes at every track leading him to the championship. Scelzi’s production last year points to improvement in both his consistency and versatility.
While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow Scelzi to hone his skills in California much in 2020, it did open more opportunities to compete with top-tier series like the All-Star Circuit of Champions on top of his usual World of Outlaw appearances.
From 2016 to 2019, Scelzi made only nine ASCoC feature starts and earned four top-10s with no top-5s. His twelve races in 2020 yielded eight top-10s, seven top-5s and his first series victory, all significant gains from the first stretch.
Scelzi credits his extensive experience with the World of Outlaws for much of his growing versatility and consistency.
“When you run with the Outlaws, the competition level is so high that you have to be somewhat good on every type of racetrack,” Scelzi explained. “If you’re not very good at a place, they’re going to eat you up, and you’re not going to run very good. I relay a lot of that to my success at a lot of different styles of racetrack.”
Looking to this season, the decision to stay in, or near, California has paid dividends so far. Scelzi has already picked up five wins at four tracks, all of which happen to be on the remaining NARC calendar. The triumphs included topping a stout field of 51 cars at the Spanky Matthews Memorial at Keller Auto Speedway in March, a weekend sweep of a pair of Kings of Thunder events at Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway and a win at the Bill Brownell Memorial in Chico.
Winning hasn’t been the only way Scelzi has had success in a young 2021 season. During their trip to the three-day Wild Wing Shootout at Arizona Speedway in January the 41S team scored top-10s each night, including a runner-up in the finale. Earning those results required battling some of the sport’s top talent including Donny Schatz, Tony Stewart and Aaron Reutzel. Scelzi has also podiumed in more than half of his 16 feature starts so far this year, including the NARC opener at Stockton.
“I think it’s because it’s been so different,” Scelzi reasoned for the team’s quick start. “Usually, we start the year out with the Outlaws. Basically from 2016 to now the majority of my racing has been Outlaw races. I haven’t really run a whole lot of 360 stuff, haven’t really raced a whole lot out here in California… I think it’s just a fact of more or less coming home to places that I used to race at a lot.”
Expect Scelzi’s decision to stay out west this year to make life tough on his competitors. While his familial duties have increased, the rigors of travel have been cut significantly. The 41S car’s recent results point to an unquestionable improvement, and more laps at Scelzi’s home tracks should produce even better finishes. And perhaps the biggest reason to plan on seeing Scelzi toward the top of the standings is his fiery motivation to put the disappointment of 2015 and 2019 behind him by winning.
“I have so much faith in what my guys are able to accomplish,” Scelzi said. “And Jimmy (Carr) has given me such an incredible racecar over the last year of working with him. I feel like we’re dangerous. More than anything I want to show that we’re the best team in California. I want to win a lot of races. I want this to be, without a question, an unrelenting season on a lot of teams, and I want them to all wish the year was over.”
Lastly, Scelzi has a bit of a card up his sleeve, a little added fuel that may make the difference in the title hunt. In a stunning move of transparency, he shared the speed secret.
“You’re going to have to get three tacos,” Scelzi revealed as the starting point for the ideal taco meal, his personal measure of methanol. “You want a cabeza taco, a lengua taco and a pollo taco. They’ve got to be street tacos. You want two tortillas, got to be corn. Little bit of cilantro, little bit of raw onion and some habanero sauce.”
Scelzi can next be seen with the NARC King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Cars at the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare on May 15th for the Peter Murphy Classic. The entire NARC schedule can be viewed live on FloRacing.com.
Sometimes you lose track of your key driving essentials when traveling around the country. On this night, Dominic discovered he inadvertently left his gear back east and improvised by borrowing one of his dad’s (Gary Scelzi) drag racing suits.