Giovanni Scelzi set the Sprint Car racing world on fire in 2018 when he won a World of Outlaws feature at Williams Grove Speedway, becoming the youngest winner in series history. Just over a year after that September night, he will be the latest driver to make the jump from dirt to asphalt as he joins Bill McAnally Racing for the 2020 ARCA Menards Series West season.
The California driver’s transition to the hardtop will begin at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, where he will hop into a Pro Late Model in addition to the ARCA East race scheduled for Monday during the week.
The 18-year-old enlisted the help of a former BMR driver and ARCA West champion for the week. Scelzi is only planning on two Pro Late Model starts during the week as he acclimates himself to asphalt for Monday night’s ARCA East race and the season ahead.
“We talked about running a couple different cars, Bill McAnally was the one who lined it up with Derek Kraus, who’s run for him in the past couple years,” Scelzi told Speed51.com. “I’ll actually run Derek’s dad’s car the first couple nights then we’ll run the ARCA East race. Derek will run the last two nights.”
Scelzi is undefeated in asphalt competition, having won at Irwindale Speedway in the familiar Tim Huddleston-owned No. 50 Late Model in his only start to date. He admits making the jump to asphalt Stock Cars will be tough with the vast difference between it and a Sprint Car or Midget, but believes the Bill McAnally crew will make it easier.
“I’ve only ran one race but I’ve tested a handful of times with K&N or ARCA cars, whatever you want to call them now. It’s just completely different, everything’s different,” he said. “From how you sit in them, pretty much just throw everything away that I’m used to and start fresh. It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m nowhere near I need to be, but with the people around me and getting in a championship-winning car helps that transition.
“I’m very excited, it’s something new, a whole different environment, a different team, different people. I’m looking forward to something new,” he added. “I kind of did the same schedule the last two years with the Outlaws and the All Stars, kind of got in that groove and got comfortable there so I think it’s time to chase something new.”
After making over a hundred starts between Sprint Cars and Midgets over the past two years and scoring wins in the World of Outlaws, All Star Circuit of Champions, and USAC National Midgets, his dirt schedule will be scaled back to accommodate the ARCA West slate. Another big change for Scelzi will be who he drives for on dirt, teaming up with Guy Forbrook and Jim Goerges for the slate after racing the Indy Race Parts No. 71 for Bernie Stuebgen for two years.
“I’m only going to run about 18 Sprint Car races, 16 to 18. It’ll be mostly based around Knoxville. I can run the 410 Knoxville Nationals, which is what I’m trying to focus on. I’ll run some World of Outlaw races around Knoxville, the local stuff, the Jackson Nationals which pays $100,000 to win, and the World Finals. There will be a handful of races, but just around the Midwest.”
The 2020 season brings minimal expectations for Scelzi as he transitions to a predominantly-asphalt schedule. With New Smyrna to prepare himself for the ARCA West season and a championship crew behind him, he believes the learning curve will go quicker.
“Man, it’s tough. You honestly have to go into it with no expectations, but at the same time you want to have some kind of goal to chase,” he said. “I think just the biggest thing is to get comfortable in the race car. Knock on wood, everything I’ve driven, whether it’s a 410 or a Midget or whatever, I’ve been in good equipment so my learning curve has gone a lot quicker. I think once I get comfortable with the people I’m around, if we click well we should have no problem.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com