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Zizzo to Face Langdon After Qualifying 11th at Winternationals

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing
Topics:  TJ Zizzo, Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals

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

Zizzo to Face Langdon After Qualifying 11th at Winternationals

Brandon W. Mudd
Zizzo Racing
February 26, 2011


Brandon W. Mudd

POMONA, Calif. – After laying down a 3.870 ET in the first round of qualifying for the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals Thursday and having Friday’s round canceled due to rain, TJ Zizzo and the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel team were ready to hit the track Saturday at the Auto Club Raceway. But after two rounds, resulting in ETs of 4.636 and 3.952 respectively, Zizzo Racing saw their starting spot in Sunday’s eliminations drop from seventh to 11th.

The team, led by Lisle, Ill.-native Mike Kern, hoped to repeat their time from Thursday and, for the most part, was able to accomplish that. Unfortunately, the No. 317 rail fell victim to engine gremlins at the end of both passes.

“We had a little problem with the supercharger (in the first round) and gave up the ghost a little bit,” Kern said. “So that run was a scratch.

“On the second run, we went out there and tried to repeat that Thursday time again and bump up a spot or two. It went out and did what we call ‘ker-plunked the motor,’ where the clutch locks up and grabs the motor. And it looks like it pushed a head gasket out on us. So we’ll get her fixed and get her ready for tomorrow morning.”

As the teams arrived to the track Saturday morning, there were questions as to whether or not any racing would take place at all. The weather forecast all week called for thunderstorms and a hard rain producing sizable hail mid-morning seemed to bear that out. Fortunately for the teams and the fans, NHRA officials were able to prep the track and, with Mother Nature’s cooperation, the last two rounds of qualifying were run as scheduled.

For Zizzo Racing, improvements are being made at every race. As such, times and qualifying positions that would have been cause for celebration in the past is now reason for long faces in the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner pit.

“As I’m crossing the finish line today and I look up and see that 3.95 on the scoreboard, and we knew we hurt some parts on that pass, I was disappointed,” Zizzo said, taking a break from thrashing on the car with his team. “We were all disappointed. We expect more. I expect more. Our expectations have grown exponentially from where we were last year. We wanted to see a 3.85 on the board.”

In the first round of eliminations Sunday, Zizzo faces sixth-place qualifier Shawn Langdon. Langdon earned his spot with an ET of 3.847 at 314.31 mph. Larry Dixon, who earned his third NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel title at this very track in November, continued his domination of the class Saturday, earning top qualifier honors with a national record ET of 3.770 at a track-record speed of 324.98 mph.

TJ IN THE MEDIA:Zizzo has made news all weekend with his new paint scheme designed by legendary drag racing artist Kenny Youngblood. Outlets such as CompetitionPlus.com, DragRacingOnline.com, and the Los Angeles Daily News have all run stories on the collaboration between Zizzo Racing and Youngblood. Zizzo has also appeared on a number of motorsports shows talking about the 2011 season, including Jerry’s Racing Garage at GoFlo.com and the internet-based racing program “The Racing Nuts.”

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.

Sunday’s Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals finals kick off Sunday at 11 a.m. local time immediately following pre-race ceremonies. Eliminations will be carried live at ESPN3.com and will air on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. CT. ESPN2’s NHRA Full Throttle Series coverage begins Sunday morning at 9 a.m. CT with NHRA RaceDay live from the Auto Club Raceway.


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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