SONOMA, Calif. -- NHRA stars John Force and Gary Scelzi traded in their 6,000-horsepowered dragsters for 100,000-pound Caterpillar bulldozers on Sunday, Aug. 5, following final-round eliminations at the NHRA FRAM Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway.
Scelzi and Force piloted the huge bulldozers and ripped through the asphalt on the drag strip, signifying the beginning on the second phase of Sears Point Raceway's comprehensive $35 millioin Modernization Plan.
An integral part of the second phase for the NHRA will be the repaving of the drag strip, as well as construction of a 660-foot concrete launching pad that could make Sears Point Raceway one of the fastest tracks in the country. A 15,000-seat permanent grandstand will also be built on the west side of the refurbished drag strip.
Rivals Force and Scelzi took out their aggressions on the drag strip on Sunday as each pounded away at the asphalt in their bulldozers. Work began in earnest on the second phase of the Modernization Plan on Monday, Aug. 6, with renovations to the drag strip scheduled to be completed by the 2002 FRAM Autolite Nationals, Aug. 2-4.
After dismounting his bulldozer, Force, who drives the Castrol GTX Funny Car, said, "You know, I think I spun the treads coming off the concrete. It's great to be part of Bruton Smith's master plan for this track. You can bet this will be a super track once they're through with it. I can't wait to get out here next year."
His competitor, Scelzi, driver of the Team Winston Top Fuel dragster, said, "I think this place is going to be great. It's a typical Bruton Smith deal. No expense spared. This place already looks good and it's going to be even better next year."
Sears Point's $35 million Modernization Plan, which kicked off on September 13, is scheduled to be completed by NASCAR, 2002. Already completed improvements include the new Gate 7 entrance for easier access to the facility, 30,000 terrace seats constructed in the hillsides at Turns 2-4, and a system of two access roads for smoother transportation throughout the facility. With a variety of fan and racer amenities, the improvements will transform Sears Point Raceway into one of the premier motorsports venues in the country.
"The Sears Point drag strip has been around for 32 years and I doubt if any of the drivers out here had any feelings of nostalgia watching this track get ripped up," said Steve Page, president and general manager at Sears Point Raceway. "The new track gives us the potential for the best racing Sears Point has ever seen."