Thank you, neighborsTuesday, July 23, 2013

Recently I had to stop and thank my dad’s neighbor. For months, I've been thinking about how cool my parents' neighbors were growing up. I know you're thinking I'm writing about the neighborhood kids, but I'm talking about their parents.

I had many friends in the neighborhood; in fact, one of those friends worked on our Alcohol Dragster and also our NHRA Mello Yello Series PEAK Motor Oil Top Fueler today. We grew up together and are still great friends. Although he now has other interests like hiking the Appalachian Trail with his girlfriend, he still helps us without hesitation when we need him.

Anyway back to my story.

It was not the kids in the neighborhood I needed to thank, it was their parents! I grew up on a cul-de-sac with six houses and each house had an acre of land. Unfortunately, the three households on our side of the street had to put up with a lot! The houses on the other side of the street just had to put up with an occasional blast up and down the street to get all the mud off my motorcycles’ tires.

When we moved in, I was 13 and all I wanted to do every day was ride my four-wheeler and motorcycles. We had vacant property behind all three of the houses including my parents' property, about six acres in all. I got up one morning with a chainsaw and a dream. I wanted to build a motocross track...and I did not stop for five years! Every day I was out there with neighborhood kids cutting trees and digging jumps and berms. We called it the “chainsaw massacre.” Keep in mind it was not my property; in fact, we really did not know who owned it, but that did not slow me down.

Every day we cut a new section of the track and it turned out pretty awesome. My parents were happy I dedicated all my time to something “constructive” and I was not out getting in trouble at a party, but what must the neighbors thought? I think my parents paid them off!

Back to my story. I was driving up my dad’s street and I gave one of the neighbors a wave like I always do. You know the wave. “Hey, how are you doin’?” with a smile. Who talks to people anymore? I do!

A few days later I saw her and she was pulling out of her driveway and again I drove by and waved. I thought to myself, I need to thank her! This time I stopped at the top of the street and I saw she was right behind me, so I put my car in neutral put the emergency brake on and got out of my car with a smile on my face. She must have thought I was nuts at this point, although I think she figured out that 25 years ago when I was riding my motorcycles from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.

I walked up to the window of her car and just said THANK YOU for being such a great neighbor. Between my dad’s stunts up and down the street with his Pro Mod street car, customers from our body shop and 20 team members' vehicles on her street on Tuesdays and Sundays, she has put up with a lot living next to my dad! Especially when he obliterated her mailbox while losing control of his blown Willys. Yep, I replaced that mailbox before she got home from vacation with direction from one of her grown kids. Let me tell you, digging a hole in frozen ground is no easy task.

Once again back to the story. She just looked at me in amazement, like why are you thanking me? I, of course, explained myself and we had a great conversation about years gone by--her kids' adventures and now her grandkids' adventures. She stated her oldest son was always into cars and snowmobiles growing up so she understood my passion.

After our conversation I hopped back into my car and thought about the past and all the good memories I had, all because my parents had great neighbors. They could have shut my “chainsaw massacre” down the day I started.

One more quick story. The other family on my dad’s side of the street is the team member I mentioned earlier who still helps on our PEAK Motor Oil Top Fueler. While my parents were building their house, they became friendly right away with them. One of the first days I met their kids I burned their Honda Trail 70 to the ground. Honestly, I think their mom was happy although the kids were certainly heart broken. The fire department came and everything. That is a story for another day as well. Man, I have a lot of stories!

On the racing side of my creative life, our team is very fortunate to be racing at the next four NHRA Mello Yello Series events. It will be the first time we have the opportunity race at four races in a row and travel to the Northwest. We are jacked!

My wife and I decided not to take an RV out west because the cost of diesel is “nuts,” so my wife and kids decided to meet me out in Seattle. Here is what is going to happen at the race in Seattle: we will qualify well, my wife and kids will fly in on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon they will be standing in the winner’s circle with our entire team. I can’t wait!

I am the guy that is always entertaining fans at out pit area. Feel free to stop by and say hello. If you do not have the opportunity to get out to the track keep up with me on: Facebook (TJ Zizzo), Twitter (@TJZizzo),, Zizzo Racing/, and

God bless!