Fresno 16-year-old Gio Scelzi put himself in a racing history book this weekend.
Scelzi won Friday’s main event in the two-night National Open sprint car races at historic Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, becoming the youngest feature winner in the 40-year history of the World of Outlaws.
The National Open is a matchup between the stars of the Outlaws national tour and the “Pennsylvania Posse,” the nickname for top drivers in a state that loves sprint car racing.
Scelzi is neither, making his victory all the more remarkable. He’s been racing this season for the Indy Auto Parts team, hitting a variety of races in the Midwest and Mideast. He has three wins in 55 starts.
It was an emotional win, too. The main event on the half-mile oval was 27 laps to honor the memory of Greg Hodnett, a Pennsylvania Posse driver and former Outlaws rookie of the year who died from injuries suffered in a recent car crash.
Scelzi won his 6-lap dash to qualify for the outside front row starting spot, then put pressure on polesitter David Gravel (an Outlaws regular) from the start before taking the lead for good on lap 16.
“I don’t think I am ever going to believe this one,” Scelzi said in Victory Lane, according to an Outlaws release.
Scelzi continued his hot streak Saturday night by setting fast time in Night 2 qualifying for the National Open. He won his heat race and earned the inside second row starting position, but slipped over the cushion early and fell back. Still, his 13th-place finish cinched National Open Rookie of the Year honors.
Scelzi is part of a group of rising Valley sprint car racers including Cory Eliason of Kingsburg (who has two Outlaws wins this year), Carson Macedo of Lemoore (who’s a close second in the All-Star Circuit of Champions season points race) and Scelzi’s older brother Dominic, who was racing this weekend in Chico. Both Eliason and Macedo competed this weekend at the National Open.