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Despite E1 Exit, Zizzo & Rust-Oleum Team Pleased with Progress

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing Topics:  TJ Zizzo, Route 66 NHRA Nationals

Despite E1 Exit, Zizzo & Rust-Oleum Team Pleased with Progress

Brandon Mudd
High Side Media
Zizzo Racing
July 12, 2015


Brandon W. Mudd

Zizzo Racing Zizzo Racing Zizzo Racing
JOLIET, Ill.—Zizzo Racing can be defined by how it encounters adversity, conquers it, and maintains a positive attitude no matter the circumstances. The Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team returned to NHRA Mello Yello Series competition this weekend at Route 66 Raceway for the first time last last November and, despite only three qualifying runs due to inclement weather, made the field with a 3.995-second pass.

Veteran driver TJ Zizzo faced his former Chicago neighbor and current Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher in the first round. The rail didn't react the way the crew expected, hazing the tires immediately and giving The Sarge a first-round win en route to his 80th-career class victory later in the day. But, as is customary for Zizzo, he saw the positives in this weekend's Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

"From being really busy at the shop to coming out here and qualifying in this field which was really tricky with the rain delay, the negative is when you don't get runs, you don't get your four qualifying runs, you only get three, it becomes a challenge," he said. "In the first round, we were in a lane which probably wasn't the best and blew the tires off at the step. We did the same thing here last year. It took us by surprise, it surprised me and our crew chief (Mike Kern) and our clutch specialist (Tony Smith).

"But we learned how to do this again and before our next race, we'll be better prepared. To come out here and do as good as we did, we're happy with it. Some of the best teams out here didn't qualify, so we're happy with that and we're looking forward to our next event."

Off the track, the weekend was nothing but amazing for Zizzo. In addition to his traditional Nitro Cake breakfast in the Rust-Oleum pit Saturday morning, he was tabbed to teach the first-ever NHRA Nitro School. The event allowed fans of every experience level to get a brand-new perspective of how a Top Fuel team works throughout a race weekend.

"It was great!" he said. "It was something the NHRA should do at all their races. It was great to educate hundreds of students at a time. We probably educated more people out here than have ever been educated before. I think that worked out very well for the NHRA and Zizzo Racing and for Rust-Oleum."

The owner of a body shop and a longtime user of Rust-Oleum in his "real" life, Zizzo said seeing all the fans and hearing how they've been encouraged to use the product because of its sponsorship of Zizzo Racing was a highpoint of the weekend.

"The fans want us out here and they want us out here a lot more than ever before. It's nice to see fans and fan support," he said. "Fans talk about how they've used Rust-Oleum because of our team and how much they've used it since they've seen Rust-Oleum on the side of our car. Fans showed us their Rust-Oleum projects they've done and it was great!"

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.


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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