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Zizzo, Rust-Oleum Kick Off 2015 Season at Home Track

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing Topics:  TJ Zizzo

Zizzo, Rust-Oleum Kick Off 2015 Season at Home Track

Brandon Mudd
High Side Media
Zizzo Racing
July 9, 2015


Brandon W. Mudd

Zizzo Racing Zizzo Racing
Lincolnshire, Ill.—Home is where the heart is.

It’s been eight months since NHRA Mello Yello Series Top Fuel pilot TJ Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum team have raced down a drag strip at 300+ mph, so needless to say, they are very happy to return to action at their home track of Route 66 Raceway for the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend.

Over the course of that eight months, the team has worked on a sprawling new race shop that will also double as the headquarters for Zizzo’s body shop business. “Thankfully, Rust-Oleum has been very kind to allow us to take some time off to regroup, to get our building up to speed, and come out to Joliet,” Zizzo said. “That’s a wonderful situation. They are a great marketing partner to have.”

The second-generation drag racer and Chicago native has seen improvements in leaps and bounds since Rust-Oleum, based out of Vernon Hills, Ill., joined the team. Zizzo’s boundless enthusiasm was ratcheted up even higher with the news his new sponsor is going to be around for awhile.

“The last pass we made was a 3.81, so we have not changed too much since that point, so we should be able to go out and start somewhere back in that ballpark,” he said. “Excited to do it, excited to be back at the race track, excited to have Rust-Oleum on our car for the second year in a row, and we just signed a multi-race, multi-year deal with them, so you will see us for many years to come.”

For this weekend, though, it’s all about the racing and returning to action as a top-level NHRA driver. Zizzo said the first round Friday will be a learning experience.

“From a driver’s standpoint, it’s always exciting. I always want to make sure our crew chiefs and our team members give me an easy car to drive that very first pass because I’m sure we’ll be a little bit rusty.

“My mind will probably be at 660 feet when the car is going across the finish line at 1,000 feet,” he continued. “That’s always exciting to do, so I always try to have them give me a good, nice, safe race car on that first pass, although they say, ‘Hold on, kid, you’ve done this for 25 years, I think you can figure it out!’”

The Annual Zizzo Pancake Breakfast Returns! A tradition for Zizzo Racing at Joliet has been the Saturday morning pancake breakfast cooked by TJ himself. Fans and media are encouraged to come out and have a free breakfast courtesy of Chicago’s own! “I’m actually cooking those pancakes, making the batter, and all those good things. They’re delicious!”

Don’t Miss Nitro School with TJ & NHRA’s Alan Reinhart! For the first time ever at 3 p.m., before the first qualifying session, come to TJ Zizzo's Pit Area in Nitro Alley for the first installment of Nitro School with Alan Reinhart. Watch TJ get ready for his first pass down the track with exclusive commentary from the voice of the NHRA; come back in between rounds to see the team tear apart the car and put it back together during 65 minute turn around period.

Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team by checking out ZizzoRacing.com, Twitter at @ZizzoRacing and Facebook.com/TJZizzo.

Zizzo Racing and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster are racing in the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals this weekend at Route 66 Raceway. Qualifying for the nitro classes are scheduled for Friday at 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. CST and again on Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eliminations kick off Sunday at 11 a.m.


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 Mello Yello Series.

About Rust-Oleum:
For nearly a century, Rust-Oleum has been the global leader in manufacturing innovative coatings that empower do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike across categories including small project paints, cleaners, primers, automotive, industrial, high performance coatings and wood care. Its wide breadth of brands and products include such trusted names as Rust-Oleum, Stops Rust®, Painter’s Touch®, Krud Kutter®, Universal®, EpoxyShield®, Varathane®, Zinsser®, MultiSpec®, Testors®, Modern Masters®, and Watco®. Visit www.Rustoleum.com for more information.

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