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Disappointing Rd. 1 Loss Sends Zizzo Racing Home Early

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing
Topics:  TJ ZizzoKragen 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

Disappointing Rd. 1 Loss Sends Zizzo Racing Home Early

Brandon W. Mudd
Zizzo Racing
February 27, 2011


Brandon W. Mudd

POMONA, Calif. – Simply making the show is no longer acceptable to Zizzo Racing.

After a crushing first-round loss to Shawn Langdon Sunday at the 51st Annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, TJ Zizzo and the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner team weren’t pleased that they had some strong passes early in the week. They weren’t proud of the fact they can do more with less than nearly anyone in the NHRA Full Throttle Series garage. They were mad.

They were mad because every person on this Illinois-based Top Fuel team felt today was the day they were going to shock the world. Instead, it was the members of Zizzo Racing who were in shock after seeing their rail begin smoking at half track at Auto Club Raceway, crossing the line with an ET of 4.574 at 201.76 mph.

“Very disappointing loss,” said Zizzo regarding the surprise engine failure. “The way a loss gets more disappointing over time is because our expectations have risen. We are doing wonderful things. Out of the box, we were the number-seven qualifier with a 3.87 (on Thursday). We ran good yesterday. The weather was poor, but we made the best of it and we did a great job yesterday. The weather’s beautiful and sunny right now, yet a first-round loss feels more disappointing than ever because we have so much potential.”

That potential was shown by the team when they put up a 3.95 Saturday in the final round of qualifying even after serious clutch issues at the 800-foot mark and again today when they were quicker than Langdon at the 330-foot mark by .05 seconds. With parts made prior to the turn of the century and a volunteer crew, Zizzo Racing is making the field when better-funded teams are going home Saturday night. At the end of the day, however, even the hardest-working team can only do so much against multi-million dollar budgets facing them in the next lane.

“What we’re doing with the equipment we have is phenomenal,” Zizzo said. “The people in this pit area don’t want to race us because they know we are a major, major threat. Remember, we have a 1999 car. The guy we ran? He has a 2011 car. That’s just an example. We are doing wonderful things with what we have.”

For anyone who knows Zizzo, though, knows he is an optimist, a happy-go-lucky racer who almost never fails to see the brighter side of any situation. Sunday’s result is no different.

“That being said, we’re in wonderful Southern California, the sun’s shining on me, I get to go home to my wife, I get to see my kid’s smiling faces, I get to kiss my wife,” he said. “At the end of the day, sometimes, when you lose in the first round, you just have to say ‘I’m lucky to do this’ and I get to go home safe.”

Zizzo and the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner team will next see action April 29-May 1 at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston for the 24th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals. For more information on the event and for tickets, call 281-383-7223 or visit them on the Web at RoyalPurpleRaceway.com.

Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the PEAK Motor Oil/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.


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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