Ted Gotelli, one of the most successful NHRA Northern California racers
of all-time. Running out of his Gotelli's
Speed Shop in south San Francisco, Gotelli fielded an impressive string
of Top Fuel race cars, especially between the years 1960 and 1972. Gotelli's
fame lay in his wrenching abilities, with his biggest claim coming on
May 16, 1965 when his driver, the late Denny Milani, backed up the sport's
first 210-mph pass at Sacramento Raceway. Milani ran a 211.26 and backed
it up with a 209.78-mph charge.
Gotelli never won a big race, but was good for low e.t. and top speed at many big events. Locally at Fremont Raceway, Gotelli and Milani won over 20 Top Fuel event titles in 1964 and the competition then included talent like the Masters & Richter team and Johnny Batto in the Batto-Valente-Bing's Speed Shop dragster. As close as Gotelli got to a major win was in 1962 when driver Glenn Leasher took runner-up honors to Don Prudhomme at the Bakersfield March Meet.
Over the years, Gotelli resembled a northern version of Roland Leong
considering the number of drivers he had employed. Jim McClennan (with
Champion Speed Shop), Leasher, Milani, Sammy Hale, Kenny Safford, Norm
Weekly, Norm Wilcox, Ronnie Hampshire, Jim Lynn, and Jim Davis were
some of the drivers of his fuel dragsters. After Jim McLennan died Ted Gotelli purchased his friends Jim's Champion Speed Shop and his son Ted Gotelli Jr ran it in the city for many years till all the speed shops machines were moved to the Gotelli Speed Shop location and the Champion shop closed, Ted never bought the rights to the Champion Speed Shop name, that was Jimmy's he said
In 1958, Jim teamed up with Ted
Gotelli and their Champion-Gotelli Speed Shop Special would set
many track and Standard 1320 records.
Cover shot of the Champion-Gotelli Speed Shop Special. when it set a new Standard 1320 B/FD record of 8.77-171.45 at HMB.
Jim and Ted put a blower on the rail for the 2nd Annual U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships; Bakersfield CA 1960.
By the fall of 1960, the Champion-Gotelli Speed Shop Team consisted of Ted's black Scotty Fenn dragster with a blown Chrysler and a new Scotty Fenn rail with a blown Chevy. Initially Jim drove the Chevy and Bud Barnett drove the Chrysler, but at times one or the other drove both cars. In March 1961, Rod Stuckey sustained severe burns from a fire while driving his top fuel dragster at HMB. To help pay the medical bills, the Organ Grinders organized a benefit race on his behalf at HMB. Bud Barnett drove both cars that day, and as fate would have it, suffered similar serious injuries from an engine explosion right before the lights. This accident for all intents and purposes ended Bud's driving career. Ted Gotelli took a torch and cut up what was left of that Scotty Fenn rail.
The black Gotelli-McLennan Spl. at the 1961 March Meet. This is the dragster in which Bud Barnett incurred his horrific burns from a fire at the Rod Stuckey benefit race at HMB in April 1961.
Jim built this Scotty Fenn
car, the red Champion Speed Shop-Gotelli Spl., in 1960 when Ted
made the decision to put a Chrysler in the original Scotty Fenn
rail. This photo was taken for the October 1961 issue of Hot
Rod Magazine when the magazine ran a 3-page feature called "Rail
for a Reason". Left to right: John Zucca, Jim McLennan, Ted Gotelli,
Bruno Gianoli, Marcel "Lem" Lemmelet, and Bud Barnett.
The Gotelli name still lives on with his shop he started in South San Francisco and in drag racing
and even toys Dragsters had been based on Teds early record making cars for the young Racers and race fans