For several years now, Giovanni Scelzi has been on the nationwide radar as potentially the next big thing, and at 17-years old, he is proving just why the young Californian regarded so highly. Before his prowess behind the wheel rose to the surface, the younger Scelzi was impressing elders with his mechanically inclined traits and superb knowledge of cars and setups as just a young boy. Now, the son of legendary NHRA Drag Racer, Gary Scelzi, and little brother to fellow sprint car standout, Dominic Scelzi, Gio is lighting the sprint car world on fire from coast-to-coast and even down under.
Getting his start in the California micro sprint ranks, fans in the Central Valley witnessed the rise of Gio’s young career right before their eyes. Over the years, he progressed from the classes of Jr. Sprints to Restricted to Stock to Outlaw at his home tracks of Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia, CA and Lemoore Raceway in Lemoore, CA.
At the age of 13, Gio captured national attention when he scored one of the iconic “Golden Drillers” in the 2015 Tulsa Shootout. Barely a teenager, Scelzi beat 200+ entries from across the nation in the weeklong event, as he dominated the Winged A-Class main event. He continued to build an incredible micro sprint career with a California Speedweek Championship in Super 600 as the topper in 2016.
Running for the revered Roth Motorsports team, Gio transitioned to full-size sprint cars in 2016 and picked up the King of Kings title. He also began competing in the family operation and found plenty of success, enough to be named the 360 Rookie of the Year by the North American Sprint Car Poll. Advancing to the 410 ranks in 2017, Gio and Roth teamed together to finish second in the King of the West point standings.
The 2018 campaign marked the biggest and best of Scelzi’s young career. He opened up with Rookie of the Year honors at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals as he guided a Clauson-Marshall Racing entry into the main event as a newbie to the event and midget racing overall. A connection with Bernie Stuebgen of Indy Race Parts led to the opportunity to drive the No. 71, a chance that Gio mightily capitalized on.
The duo of Stuebgen on the wrenches and Scelzi at the wheel started clicking off wins and strong performances across the country. Scelzi attempted the Knoxville Nationals for the first time and qualified for the main event while scoring Rookie of the Year honors. In September, he notched the biggest win of his life. At 16-years old, Scelzi drove around David Gravel and then fended off the nation’s best drivers at Williams Grove (PA) Speedway to win his first-career World of Outlaws Sprint Car main event, becoming the youngest winner in WoO’s 40-year history.