For the first time in his life, Geno Scali is doing what he loves full-time. The rider of the Trim-Tex Suzuki in the Pro Stock Bike category is concentrating on the business of racing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Chicago resident and native has been competing in the two-wheel category since 1995. While he has not always been able to run a full schedule of NHRA events, he has always had a full-time job outside of racing. That changed before the start of the 2003 season when he paired up with Joe Koenig and Earl Deglopper. The three share ownership duties and Scali literally quit his day job in hopes of pursuing an NHRA championship. So far, so good. Scali and Co. earned the victory in Commerce, Ga. to kick the month of May off with a bang. Not only did they get a trophy, but Scali's name is at the top of the POWERade points list too. Scali is looking for similar results during the sixth annual Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals, May 29-June 1, at Route 66 Raceway. Larry Dixon, Del Worsham, Bruce Allen and Angelle Savoie are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 10th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. "The Trim-Tex company is located in Illinois and there are about 150 employees working for Joe and hopefully everyone will be able to come out to the track and watch us race," Scali said. "We are all going to have a lot of friends and family members to support us. Route 66 Raceway is an outstanding race track. They took the time and made all of the right moves when building that facility. "In the back of your mind you think about winning your hometown race. I really try to just concentrate on racing one round at a time, no matter what track we are at. But if your friends and family can come out to just one or two races a year, you really want to win in front of them." After racing for Pete Briggs and the Kawasaki team in 2002, Scali opted to take partial ownership duties in 2003. The team may be newly formed, but they're pleased with the early signs of success. "With any new team you have to be realistic when setting your goals," Scali said. "Our goals were to qualify in the top five and go rounds. So far, we've done that. The best thing about this team is that we are all racers. We are all experienced in the racing industry and that makes for a good combination." Scali is quick to point out that there are plenty of races left on the 2003 schedule. "I'd work twice as many hours every day if I could just to maintain our position," Scali said. "Anybody in the top 10 can win at any given time. It's not like we are heading to the Finals in Pomona (Calif.) and we are the champions already. We had a great weekend in Atlanta and the luck went our way. We have to keep working because it is not always going to be like that. "For the first time in Pro Stock Bike there are eight to 10 riders running the same numbers. Riders like Shawn Gann, Craig Treble, Antron Brown, Angelle Savoie, Reggie Showers and Fred Collis are all capable of winning and running low E.T's and I am sure it is going to be even more competitive next year." Before the 2004 season comes around too quick, Scali is enjoying the new team and the early success. "We are doing it right with this team and having a lot of fun in the process," Scali said. "My wife was there for the win in Atlanta and that was great. When we won the race in Brainerd (Minn.) last year, she wasn't there and I had a hot dog for my big celebration dinner. This year we won in Atlanta as a team and we celebrated as a team with a big dinner at T-Bones that night. "Being partial team owner allows me to create my own destiny within certain limits. We have all the control of the atmosphere in our pits at the race track and we like having all of our friends and family around us. It's not a distraction for me. When I put my helmet on, I am ready to race, no matter what."
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