If you remember from my past blogs, I keep all my things to do on separate Post-Its. I am positive the needle on 3M’s stock has ticked upward with the amount of money I spent on Post-Its. Besides the waste of hard-earned money, it was getting cumbersome working around all those Post-Its on my desk. I eventually ran out of space.
Then I decided to type out a list of things to do and put it in a folder on my computers desk top labeled “#^%$ To Do.” Here is the problem: when I am sanding and painting cars, I do not have an opportunity to check my computer, so I went back to what worked: my Post-Its. Eventually, that got out of hand again.
I now have a better system … at least I think I do! I have a pad of paper that I write a list of things to do on every night for the next day. I did this with a twist; I put an estimated time next to each task. I am a goal-orientated person. I love building lists and marking them complete. The only problem is, I rarely accomplish what I want to get done. That is where the time table next to the task gets interesting.
The first night I was building my list for the next day, it was 25 items long (that is normal). I started with putting an estimated time next to each item, knowing that my estimated time is usually way too short. That is what happens when you are a perfectionist, everything takes longer because it has been checked, double-checked and triple-checked. Yes! I have problems!
Anyway back to my story …
As I put my times next to the items, I realized I had a conservative 48 hours of work to get done in an 18-hour work day. I am sure I am not the only one to try to get too much accomplished in a single day. Drag racing fans and racers are always on the edge of deadlines. We are a different breed. How can we spend so much time messaging and caressing something for “it” (the run) to only last a few seconds? No comment! When I noticed the time it would take to get the next day’s list of things to do finished, I had a reality check. No wonder I did not hug my kids very often and I was never able to kiss my wife--I was never home. I had to put the brakes on my life a little bit. As you can imagine, that only lasted a short time.
I am sure you have figured out by now that I am the type of person who is always on edge. All it takes is one small issue and I spin out of control for the day. I really need to learn how to relax and enjoy the moment. The issue I have is I am always looking forward to that next challenge. It really is a sickness.
With all that being said, it has been a productive offseason and I did spend more time with my family compared to offseasons gone by. It was enjoyable; we did not go anywhere spectacular or do anything really “cool.” We spent time at home in front of the fireplace and enjoyed each other’s company. I know when my wife reads this she will not remember those days because since New Year’s Day I have not had a day off. Also, my things to do lists are not working as well as I expected. I keep on moving my things to do to the following day and now I am a week behind. Hence my belated blog!
Here is my conclusion: I will get all those items on my to-do list finished after Pomona. I am in full Pomona mode; I am jacked up and ready to stand on the gas of our 10,000-horsepower PEAK Motor Oil Top Fuel dragster.
The semi pulled out of the shop on Saturday and it is currently in Oklahoma. Right now, I am sitting at Chicago O’Hare airport because my plane just got cancelled. I had a flight to Nashville scheduled for an O’Reilly Auto Parts manager’s conference. Now I am on standby for the next flight at 5 p.m. I hope to catch that flight so I do not disappoint 5,000 O’Reilly Auto Parts store managers. At least the delay gave me time to catch up on my blog. This is the life of a “big-time” drag racer. I love every minute of it and I would not change a thing!
See you at Pomona. I will be the guy with a smile and drinking a Mello Yello!
I apologize for the delay. I have not kept up on my blog, but I want you to know that it truly bothered me every day. As a man of my word, I feel awful about not fulfilling my end of the bargain. It feels great to stop for a moment and type this blog; I feel a sense of relief!
I think about writing it every day, but my time to get it done has been very limited. I always know when I have way too much going on…. I have a beard, the wheels on my car are loaded with brake dust and my house is not “mint.” Not only have I not typed a blog in a long time, but I look around my house and it isn’t as organized and perfect as it once was. The windows need cleaning inside and out, the exterior needs to be power washed and I have had a pile of mulch in my driveway since April 1…. April Fools! These are all items that get put off to the side so our team can perform at their PEAK!
My family is usually the one to suffer because I do not make time for them; thankfully, this year has been a “little” different. Instead of using my “spare” time doing all of the things I mentioned above, I spent time with my family. I tried my hardest to be home at 6 p.m. to have dinner with my wife, Jen, and our kids. I even relaxed on the couch with them a few times. I am sure you remember from my past blogs that the word relax is not in my dictionary! Well, I have fallen back on old habits and relaxing is a distant memory. Jen is going to read this and maybe forget those great memories of me spending time with the family because the last three weeks I have worked 18 hours a day.
The last six weeks have been absolutely awesome. I seriously can’t believe what our team has accomplished since Norwalk. We moved from my dad’s 750-square-foot garage and crawl space to a much larger, dedicated facility. It is way too big, but as you know, you can never have enough space. Our team is already 30 percent more efficient than we were working out of my dad’s crawlspace. It was always a game of Tetris just to work on something. Now each team member can work in their area and leave it out until the next time they show up at the shop. What a difference this facility has made. I promise you, being more efficient at the shop will turn into performance on the track.
We also have assembled a new combination of parts and pieces since Norwalk that will allow us to perform at our PEAK. Between the move and assembling an entirely different combination of engine and clutch parts, we have been Full Throttle. We were one of the last top fuel cars on the planet to run a standard manifold (we were proud of how well we were running!), but recently we’ve been hurting a lot of parts. And that is not something we want to do. Certainly we do not like to have PEAK Motor Oil on the racetrack, which hurts me more emotionally than performing poorly at an event. Drag racing is a great sport, but I thoroughly get disgusted when fans have to wait for a cleanup on the track.
My dad is crazy!
Besides the move and combination change, my dad recently competed at Bonneville. He had a blast! He was upset leaving in the middle of the shop move and racecar improvements. He felt that he was leaving at a very bad time, but when he returned the shop was organized and the racecar that was ready to thunder. He was so proud of our entire team. Most importantly going to Bonneville gave him a break to relax at 271 mph on his days off. He is an animal!
On a closing note, I had an opportunity to drive a very unique diesel dragster last November, but I had to pass it up in order to spend the necessary time on our PEAK Top Fueler. I was disappointed to give up a great opportunity, but recommended a great top alcohol dragster driver to wheel it, Marty Thacker. He does a great job, but he needed to compete at Bowling Green last weekend, so the owner asked if I could fill in for him. I was a little reluctant at first, I had never driven anyone else’s racecar and it was a totally different animal than anything I had ever driven. After talking to Marty for a while on the phone, I felt more comfortable. He gave me a lot of great tips that he learned over the summer while driving that beast. Needless to say, it was a blast! I loved the challenge, and for the first time the car went over 200 M.P.H. It was great to lend a hand and make their entire team smile., because they work real hard. Moving forward, Marty will be able to set all kinds of diesel records with it. It was truly a great experience, and I am glad I could play a small part. J.A. Lagod (owner of Hypermax Engineering and the dragster) and his right-hand guys Jeff Ahle, Ron Olsen, Bill McQuade, Jeff Abbott and Jerry Westhouse have a lot to be proud of.
As I type this, our entire team is thrashing away in preparation for the biggest event of the year, the U.S. Nationals. I am proud and blessed to be able to compete at the “granddaddy of them all” in Top Fuel! We will have a lot of new items to announce at Indy, and I am proud to be a part of expanding the sport of drag racing and bringing smiles to many faces.
Cool, my blog is up to date…….I feel like I can sleep well again.
As always, try to keep up with me on: Facebook (TJ Zizzo), Twitter (@TJZizzo, @ZizzoRacing), YouTube.com/TJZizzo, Zizzo Racing/Ebay.com, PeakAuto.com and ZizzoRacing.com.
Hello to all of my NHRA blog fans. I hope all is well and you enjoyed your holidays with family and friends. Wow, I can’t believe it’s March already! Where does the time go? I apologize for the delay, I have a tendency to over think my blog and not put my finger tips to the keyboard quick enough. This new format you are about to read should allow me to write blogs more frequently. Also, sub captions will make my blog easier to read and quicker for me to pull together. As any racer knows, time is of essence.
It’s time to feed the beast
Here’s the thing about a Top Fuel dragster…it’s a hungry 2,320 pound beast and our dragster’s appetite for parts is never ending. In fact, ours is actually a little heavier than most and something our team has been working to address.
This week alone we’ve received many boxes containing shiny new parts and more are on their way. This got me thinking…it has been like Christmas morning for the past two months at the shop. At this point I realize that some things will have to be shipped directly to the track! I have my fingers crossed that we will get everything needed before firing the car up in Gainesville. It will even feel like Christmas morning at the track. Christmas and palm trees in Florida doesn’t get any better than that!
Semi ready for Gainesville
The Zizzo Racing semi trailer leaves for Gainesville, Florida in just a few days. My Dad (and team owner) will be driving the trailer. It looks really sharp! We like the full graphics wrap and the way our marketing partner’s logos have been being incorporated.
The time before our first race is always our busiest and most stressful time of the year. The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals is our first race of the season and is always the most intense to prepare for. There’s a great deal of technical work required of the team and no matter what, we always wish that we had a little more time to prepare.
I love fan mail
I receive a lot of fan mail and I often send a hand written reply back. It means a great deal to have fan support and I’m thankful for it. Without fans, Zizzo Racing and NHRA would not exist. I get a rush every time I’m at a race and get to meet with fans. That’s why I always spend quality time signing autographs at the ropes and sharing updates on Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve got people now
My dad and I had our meeting at Misix, Inc. headquarters. Our marketing partners at Misix unveiled the new website for us. It is a hotrod! It is classy and I keep visiting it a few times each day. Have you seen it? Check out www.zizzoracing.com. They did an awesome job. MISIX and Zizzo Racing have been working together since last July and we’re really seeing the benefits of our work to activate the brand. They are taking us to a whole new level and it was nice to see my Dad's eyes light up when he saw how many people (team mates) we have at MISIX working on Zizzo Racing. Who knew I would one day have my own branded logo! A year from now we will be at a level I never dreamed we could attain. I have been doing my own marketing for years, but now I have "people!" They rock!
Tuesday night = shop night
On February 28th, the team assembled at the shop to work on the engines. Meanwhile, I was enjoying a dinner with Old World Industries, LLC (PEAK) and one of their buyers. We had a blast, I can't say enough about our great relationship with them. They have stood behind us for nine years and our relationship continues to grow. We continually aim to do a great job for them on and off the track. I see a bright future ahead.
Celebrity readers day
I visited Fairhaven elementary school in Mundelein for Celebrity Readers Day. I brought my two favorite books: Little Turtles Big Adventure and No Roses for Hairy. These are books my Mom used to read to me and I now read them to my kids.
One man’s used parts; another man’s treasure
There’s a collector’s market for used Top Fuel dragster parts. I have a friend that sells Zizzo Racing’s parts on eBay so that we can fulfill fan demand while putting dollars back into the dragster. This week a lot of parts were signed, sealed and delivered. I am thankful for the fans that support us with their hard earned money when they purchase items on eBay. If you are curious to learn more, just type in Zizzo Racing in eBay’s search box and you will find your way to a plethora of memorabilia. Every dollar we receive is filtered right back into the car, and for those who purchase parts, I thank you.
I can hardly wait to race in Gainesville. I’m excited, focused and really ready. I know the 2012 season will be my year. I can’t wait to see how the season plays out.
Oh and how could I forget? If you are not already, remember to keep up with me on Twitter (@TJZIZZO) and at Facebook.com/tjzizzo.
Look forward to seeing you at the races!
Maddie and Nick love going to the track to watch Grandpa drive.
He is almost ready!
First and foremost I would like to reintroduce myself. My name is TJ Zizzo and I drive the PEAK Motor Oil Top Fuel dragster. I live drag racing 24 hours a day and that is why you have not heard from me in a few months. That may sound contradicting, but I will try to explain where I have been in the paragraphs that follow. It is 3 a.m. right now and I AM BACK!
I have been “off in the shunts” the past few months. If you are asking yourself, “What did I just read?” don’t be alarmed. A friend of mine, whom I have not spoken to in a while, said that phrase a lot. It basically means things are close, but not quite correct. He does not know it, but he taught me a lot when I was growing up at his machine shop working on my dad’s Top Alcohol Dragster. He is one of those guys everyone respected, but one day he just vanished. He sold his part of the business and walked away. From what I know, he and his wife set themselves up for a simpler life in Wisconsin.
Maddie and my mom cruising in the yard
Anyway, back to my story (Jack Beckman was telling me earlier this year that I have a tendency to jump around in my blog. Sorry, Jack, I am doing it again!) Recently, I noticed I have not been able to accomplish everything that I wanted to on a daily basis. I worked hard, but I felt overwhelmed. Finally, a week ago I woke up at 6 a.m. and I felt like myself again. My mind was clear and I was ready to rock and roll.
I have come to the conclusion that I have worked hard my entire life. I was five years old when I painted my first Tonka Truck and I have not stopped since. I played hard as a kid and performed chores to my parents’ high standards. I worked long hours through high school and college. After I graduated from college, I continued the same work ethic. Although I will never admit it, working long hours can eventually catch up.
I was not physically worn out this time, I was mentally worn out. In my life, I have been physically worn out. That is easy: get a few good night’s rests and before you know it, you are back in the swing of things. This time I was mentally worn out. I felt like I needed a break. Although I did not physically take a break, mentally I was not as productive as I usually am. Thankfully, it only lasted a short time.
Right now, I feel better than ever and invigorated. I wake up alive and ready to take on my “to do” list (my Post It notes that are on my desk). I also noticed I am getting things accomplished again. My list of things to do is getting smaller and my mind is not as cluttered. I needed a little time to slow things up and reevaluate.
Positively speaking, we had another successful year. We qualified at every event we attended and the car ran well. We look like a million bucks! Dollar for dollar, I think we blow the competition out of the water.
Some of our team members feasting on a great meal from Taylor Shellfish Farms.
I had the pleasure working with great people this year. I have learned that if you surround yourself with better people than yourself there is no way to fail. Speaking of great people, it was a pleasure working with Kenny Youngblood all year. He is great for the sport and his paintings speak for themselves.
Even through the last few months I have been overwhelmed, the truth is our team has made great strides. I apologize to all the readers that look forward to reading this blog every few weeks. I am back on track.
I can’t wait to get started for 2012. I also will make sure to conquer that Post It note that reads: BLOG! The last one was very worn out. It had been moved around my desk and onto my computer many times. That Post It even traveled across the US with me. I wish I had a picture of it to show you how worn out it was.
It feels great to write again. I really enjoy it and it is therapeutic. I may not be a perfect writer, but I write as I speak. I have learned to write a lot, then go back and edit when I finally exhausted all my thoughts for that period of time. I remember the first time I wrote a blog for NHRA, it took me forever. I was concerned about every key stroke. Now I just punch at the keyboard and go back and edit.
We are always promoting NHRA Drag Racing.
Make sure that you have two things under the tree this year for that special person in your life: a case of PEAK Motor Oil and a piece of art painted by Kenny Youngblood.
Things are progressing so watch out in 2012. ZIZ is back!
As a side note, my son just woke up and was calling for me. When I got into his bedroom, he said his neck hurt. I examined it and saw that the left side was really swollen. All the “things” I was concerned about while typing this did not matter anymore; my kid was the priority at that point. The internet is awesome. I Googled “swollen neck” and bingo, just a swollen lymph node. I gave him a little Ibuprofen (pink yummies as my kids call them) and good to go. Piece of cake! Although I will be calling the doc when the sun comes up!
As always, try to keep up with me on: Facebook (TJ Zizzo, Zizzo Racing), Twitter (@TJZizzo, @ZizzoRacing), YouTube.com/TJZizzo, Zizzo Racing/Ebay.com, PeakAuto.com and ZizzoRacing.com.