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Zizzo Picking Up Where He Left Off: Pomona

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing Topics:  TJ Zizzo, Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals

Zizzo Picking Up Where He Left Off: Pomona

Brandon W. Mudd
Zizzo Racing
February 21, 2011

TJ Zizzo
TJ Zizzo is the driver of the PEAK/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel dragster and his family-owned team is based in Lincolnshire, Ill. TJ has raced his entire life and runs Zizzo Enterprises, Inc., when he's not racing. He and his wife, Jen, have two children -- Maddie and Nick -- and spends what little free time he has golfing and riding motorcycles. Follow TJ on Twitter at Twitter.com/TJZizzo and on Facebook at Facebook.com/TJZizzo.


Owner: Tony Zizzo
Crew Chief: Mike Kern
Clutch Specialist: Tony Smith
Utilities/Tires: Mike Adams
Public Relations: Cathie Gallo
Cylinder Heads: Rick Dale
Car Chief: Rick Messmore
Bottom End/Motor Assembly: Ryan Ramos
Clutch/Car Assembly: Chris Schneider
Cylinder Head (right): Joe Cluts
Utility: Doug Wikell
Public/Media Relations: Brandon W. Mudd


Brandon W. Mudd

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – The last time TJ Zizzo and the PEAK/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel dragster was on the track, the Illinois-native took a round-one loss to Cory McClenathen during eliminations in the season finale at Pomona, Calif. It was the first time the team had ended their season there and in continuing with first-time experiences, Zizzo Racing is returning to the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for this weekend’s 51st Annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals.

With the team competing at both the 2010 season finale and the 2011 season opener, it means Zizzo Racing has had less time than ever to prepare their dragster, but Zizzo, 35, said they’re not worried about a shorter offseason.

“Our ‘offseason’ was shorter than the space between the races at Joliet and Indy last year,” Zizzo said as he made last-minute preparations for his trip to Southern California. “A huge part of that has been the fact our team is still completely intact for the third-straight year. We all enjoy working and racing together and I think our performance in 2011 is really going to reflect that.”

A foundation for the team’s strong 2010 season was crew chief Mike Kern, who kept the PEAK/Herculiner rail consistent at every race they attended. Zizzo was able to get his car from A-B 70 percent of the runs in 2010 compared to a mere 38 percent in 2009.

One team member is a regular at Pomona for the Winternationals and has been for years. Normally, however, clutch specialist Tony “TS” Smith is on vacation in Pomona and watching from the stands. “TS usually heads out there to get a little R-and-R, but this year, he’s going to be working hard to ensure our car heads down the track at its PEAK!

“I can’t wait to slip on my fire suit, have my dad strap me in and stand on the gas,” said the driver National Dragster called ‘loquacious’ (a term Zizzo had to look up). “After the first burnout, all the fans in the stands might even be able see me smiling ear to ear through my helmet visor.”

Meet TJ:The pilot of the PEAK/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel dragster will be at the O’Reilly Auto Parts location at 355 West Holt Ave., in Pomona Wednesday 12-2 p.m. PT. TJ will meet with fans for pictures and autographs.

TJ in the Media:TJ was a guest on The Auto Show with Greg Damon Saturday on KMOX, the legendary St. Louis-based AM station. Fans can listen to the interview by clicking HERE. Respected motorsports reporter John Kernan, who is scheduled to provide pit coverage for the Full Throttle Series this year for ESPN, visited the Zizzo Racing shop as the PEAK/Herculiner rail was being prepared for its trip to Pomona. Check out John’s podcast with TJ HERE.

Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the PEAK/Herculiner Top Fuel team by checking out ZizzoRacing.com, Twitter.com/ZizzoRacing, and Facebook.com/ZizzoRacing. Videos of TJ and Zizzo Racing can be found at YouTube.com/TJZizzo.

Zizzo will race his PEAK/Herculiner rail in the NHRA Full Throttle Series’ season opener at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., at the 51st Annual Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals. The first round of qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time, Thursday, Feb. Feb. 24, and Friday, Feb. 25. The final two rounds of qualifying for the Nitro classes are expected to start at 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. local time. Finals kick off Sunday at 11 a.m. immediately following pre-race ceremonies. For information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit NHRA.com or call 800-884-NHRA (6472).

Zizzo Racing Fast Facts:

  • Zizzo has piloted the PEAK/Herculiner Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA Full Throttle Series since 2003.
  • Zizzo’s career-best ET is 3.851 (1000 ft.) achieved in 2010 at the U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. His career-best speed is 314.24 mph (1000 ft.) which also came in last year’s U.S. Nationals.
  • The highest qualifying effort for TJ and Zizzo Racing was sixth, earned last season at the second race at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.
  • The 51st Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals is Zizzo’s second race at Pomona. He raced here in the season finale in 2010, qualifying 12th and falling in the first round to Cory McClanathan.


    About Zizzo Racing:
    Zizzo Racing has been involved in drag racing at the top levels for more than 30 years. Based in Lincolnshire, Ill. and owned by Tony Zizzo, the team started racing in 1980 in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, moving to nitro with TJ in 2004 after earning his class license. In 2007, TJ Zizzo finished second in the final IHRA standings and now competes on a part-time basis in the NHRA Full Throttle Series.

    About PEAK/Old World Industries:
    PEAK® Performance Products are marketed and distributed by Old World Industries, which is among the largest privately held companies competing in the automotive aftermarket. The Northbrook, Illinois based company enjoys a presence in the automotive product markets, energy exploration, and chemical manufacturing in more than 50 countries worldwide. Old World's Product offering includes PEAK® Antifreeze; PEAK® Windshield Wash and Wiper Blades; PEAK® Performance Motor Oil; a full line of PEAK® Electronics; HERCULINER® Truck Bed Liner Kits; and SIERRA®, the safer antifreeze. For more information, please visit www.peakauto.com.

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