For the sixth time in over 15 years TJ Zizzo will be competing at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway. The Top Fuel independent who last year raced to his first final round at the NHRA Summernationals in Indianapolis, will be looking to continue his improving performance at the premier facility in the shadow of the world-famous Gateway Arch. Last year Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster team produced their best effort qualifying at the St. Louis area track starting from the No. 4 position and racing to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual winner Doug Kalitta.
Zizzo’s performance numbers have been impressive for a team that is not competing week in and week out on the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series. Earlier this season racing for the first time in 2021 Zizzo Racing’s Top Fuel entry stepped up and ran 3.777 seconds in the first round after qualifying with a solid 3.861 pass. Last year in St. Louis, Zizzo posted three consecutive runs in the 3.75 second range including back-to-back 3.75s during eliminations.
Zizzo and his family-owned team have competed selectively on the NHRA tour since his professional debut in 2003. In recent years the Lincolnshire, Ill., businessman has focused on quality over quantity when it comes to racing with the motorsports operation which is owned by his father, longtime Top Alcohol Dragster racer Tony Zizzo. The determination and focus have by his own admission sometimes consumed Zizzo to the point that this season he has taken a step back to evaluate the balance in his life. This weekend will be the first event Zizzo is bringing his new attitude to the racetrack.
“I have been working on TJ Zizzo since Brainerd,” said Zizzo. “I am the first one to tell you I am dedicated to our race team and doing everything I can to be physically and mentally prepared for an event. Physically I am always working on our race car. I love it. Mentally I am taking a new approach to this event. It is more of a personal approach, and we will see if it pays off.
“I am working on myself. Sometimes working on yourself can translate into success in all areas of your life. Personal and mental health is key to success, and I really believe that.”
One thing for certain is the fact that the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster will be as prepared for its second race of the season as the full-time competitors Zizzo will be facing when qualifying begins on Friday afternoon. Earlier this year Zizzo brought on world championship winning crew chief Rahn Tobler to support crew chief Mike Kern and long-time clutch specialist Tony Smith.
“The Rust-Oleum Rocket is going to be as prepared as she has ever been,” said Zizzo. “Our team always puts in a valid effort. Tony, Mike, and Rahn got a run under their belts in Brainerd, and we will just continue to build from that. We got data from Brainerd even though we didn’t make all the runs we could have. That data is so important for this weekend. We will see how much of that we can implement in St. Louis.”
World Wide Technology Raceway is a facility that Zizzo has frequented many times and for the Chicago native the familiarity breeds confidence. Over his career Zizzo has improved year over year with almost every appearance at the NHRA Midwest Nationals.
“St. Louis feels like our new hometown track. We have a lot of guests coming which is super cool,” said Zizzo. “One goal we have is to run a personal best. Everyone around me feels like that is possible. I look forward to climbing in that car with a clear mind.”
The new-look Rust-Oleum Rocket race car will be highlighting 100 years of Rust-Oleum. The long-time Zizzo Racing sponsor continues to maintain a strong business to business and promotional relationship with Zizzo Auto Body and Zizzo Racing.