If you want to see four-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series champion Gary Scelzi race one last time in Las Vegas, don't miss the upcoming NHRA national event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Halloween weekend.

Scelzi, whose nickname is "Wild Thing," announced his retirement from professional drag racing last month. His final appearance behind the wheel of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in Las Vegas will be the Oct. 30-Nov. 2 NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at LVMS, which just happens to be one of his favorite tracks.

"Vegas has always been one of my favorites, just like all Bruton Smith tracks," Scelzi said. "My relationship with Chris Powell (LVMS's president and general manager) and Chris Blair (LVMS's vice president of racing operations) has been for a long time. Not only do we race there but they're close personal friends. It's one of those race tracks where they have personal relationships with the drivers. They always go the extra mile, they always make sure that you're taken care of. If there's anything you want to go do, if there's anything you want to go see, if they can help you, they will.

"It's almost like going to a family-owned race track because of the care that they give you. And I'd like to say it's just for Scelzi but it's not. They take care of all the racers that way. They have a great relationship with them."

Scelzi is just one of a baker's dozen who have achieved success in driving both Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars in NHRA competition.  He won his first NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championship in his rookie year of Top Fuel Dragster racing (1997).  He then went on to win the championship again in 1998 and 2000, before switching to the Funny Car class.  He became the first Funny Car driver to reach 330 mph (2004) and won the title in 2005.

Despite his success as a driver, he is leaving the sport he loves to assume a more active role in the family business, which manufactures custom truck bodies in Fresno, Calif.

"After the season finale in Pomona, Calif., I'll be leaving Don Schumacher Racing to go back to work at Scelzi Enterprises," Gary explained. "With the economy in the state that it is, business being off in these tough economic times, and with all the travel that competing on the pro NHRA circuit entails, I feel it is in my best interest to go back to work at Scelzi Enterprises and get myself more involved with what's going on there.

"When (crew chief) Alan Johnson called me back in 1996 to replace Blaine Johnson in the Top Fuel dragster, I really didn't do it to make a living," Scelzi added. "It turned into a very good living. I did it to race the absolute best of the best, to see how I would stack up. And obviously I did pretty well."

Although he will retire from driving, Scelzi has no plans to ride off into the sunset.

"I may still come back to race some day. And even if I don't come back to drive, I guarantee you that I'll come back to Vegas to watch a drag race; my relationships aren't going to change."

Tickets for the 2008 NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at LVMS may be calling (702) 644-4444 or online at www.LVMS.com.

SCELZI GETS DOWN TO 'BUSINESS' IN VEGAS

s the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series comes down to its two final events before he steps away from competition for an undetermined duration, Gary Scelzi plans to mix business with pleasure at this weekend's eighth annual Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The season finale will be in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 13-16.

"It's really exciting for me to go to Vegas," said the driver of the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, who is No. 14 in the point standings and the 2004 Funny Car titlist in Las Vegas. "One, my USAC Midget will be running Saturday night at the Bullring, with Michael Faccinto driving, to get ready for the Thanksgiving Day race at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, and I'm really excited about that.

"Two, on Wednesday I've got a big autograph session at Integrity Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, so that's going to be cool. They also buy truck bodies from Scelzi Enterprises, so it's not only going to help Mopar, it's going to help my family-owned company back in Fresno, which is always a good thing. And then on Thursday we've got the DRAW Charity Softball game practice (before the official event on Nov. 12 in San Bernardino, Calif.)." Scelzi is the coach of Scelzi's Superchargers.

"Vegas is one of my favorite tracks," added Scelzi, a four-time NHRA world champion. "I've done very well there. It's coming down to the end of the season and my family is going to be with me for the next two races. No more traveling long distances, no more being alone 2000 miles away from home, (crew chief) Richard Hogan's got a good handle on the race car, and it looks like we've got a car that can win.

"So, maybe we can cause some problems for everybody in this Countdown to 1 for the Funny Car championship and help (Don Schumacher Racing teammate) Jack Beckman (second in points) become a POWERade champion."

GARY SCELZI's LAS VEGAS APPEARANCES THIS WEEK:

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29:
* Signing autographs at Integrity Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, at 6770 Redwood St., with Mopar/Oakley Dodge Funny Car, 4 p.m.

THURSDAY, Oct. 30:
* At DRAW Charity Softball game practice, from 2-4 p.m., at Rainbow Family Park, 7100 O'Bannon.

SATURDAY, Nov. 1:
* At the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring supporting his driver Michael Faccinto following the NHRA qualifying sessions.

TUESDAY, Nov. 4:
* At the Mopar booth to sign autographs at 11 a.m. at SEMA Show at Las Vegas Convention Center.

GARY SCELZI QUICK FACTS:
* No. 14 in points after 23 events in 2008 (one semifinal, five quarterfinal finishes, 13 first rounds and four DNQs)
* Has one victory at The Strip in Funny Car, in 2004 fall event (John Force)
* FC runner-up in 2005 fall Vegas in 2005 (Ron Capps)
* Low Funny Car qualifier in both Vegas events in 2005
* Qualified No. 3 at 2007 Las Vegas event, lost first round to Cruz Pedregon
* Third in 2007 Funny Car point standings
* Won class-best four national events in 2007, in four final rounds
* Qualified No. 1 and won the 2007 season-opening Pomona event (against Robert Hight), again qualified No. 1 and won the Chicago event, then won in Memphis and Richmond
* Seventh in 2006 Funny Car points, with one win in three final rounds, no low qualifiers
* Claimed the 2005 Funny Car championship, his first, by eight points over his teammate Ron Capps, 32 over third-place John Force
* Won three times in 2005, was low qualifier six times
* Is a three-time Top Fuel champion (1997, 1998, 2000)
* Became only the second NHRA driver to have won crowns in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Kenny Bernstein is the first
* Has set 24 Funny Car top speeds since joining Don Schumacher Racing in 2003
* Is first Funny Car driver to break the 330-mph barrier (330.15 mph at Route 66 Raceway in 2004)
* Career Funny Car bests: 4.690-second ET (Pomona 1 '07), 333.49 mph (Pomona 1 '07)
* Qualified in top five 19 times in 2005, No. 1 six times
* Has 37 career national-event titles in 58 final rounds
* Career round win-loss record is 376-210
* Age 47 (Aug. 11, 1960), born and raised in Fresno, Calif., where he lives with wife Julianne and sons Dominic and Giovanni
* Dominic, 11, races Restricted 600 Mini Sprints; Giovanni, 6, races Junior Sprints
* Runs Scelzi Enterprises, a custom truck body design and manufacturing business in Fresno with his two brothers
* Won his first Top Fuel crown as a rookie
* Has 12 Funny Car wins, 25 Top Fuel wins
* Sixth in 2003 Funny Car points, his first full season in that class
* 2008 is his sixth straight season racing for Don Schumacher Racing
* Is the only NHRA driver to have won in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car. He accomplished this feat by winning Nitro Funny Car at Infineon Raceway in 2003
* Is one of the few Funny Car drivers who has a final-round-winning record against the 14-time Funny Car champion John Force: 3-1 in final rounds, 12-12 in head-to-head match-ups
* Said early in 2007 that he would step away from NHRA competition at end of season. An offer from NHRA team owner Ken Black to fly him to and from 10 races in 2008, so he could spend more time with family business and family, helped him change his mind and return with DSR in 2008
* Announced recently that he will step away from NHRA competition at the end of 2008