Zizzo charges hard to first round defeat

LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2) — TJ Zizzo, driving his Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster, was upset minded in the first round when he went up against No. 1 qualifier, J.R. Todd at the Toyota Nationals on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  It was Zizzo’s sixth time qualifying in the No. 16 position and had previously won two rounds starting from there.

When the Tree flashed green, Zizzo raced hard down the track in a great side-by-side race running a weekend best time of 3.811 seconds, 322.88 mph only to be upstaged by Todd, who reached the finish line first on a hole shot win of 3.816 seconds, 290.82 mph.  The margin of victory was .0145 of a second.

“Just a touch short,” said Zizzo, who was determined to win just not that round but the race.  “The team did a good job and we made a race out of it.  The car responded well when we changed some clutch fingers on the car and it picked up right where we thought it would.  We’re ending the year looking forward and that’s enough to be thankful for going into 2015.

“I have to give ‘kudos’ to my team.  These guys volunteer their time at the racetrack and at the shop and do a heck of a job.  I consider ourselves one of the best part time teams in the country and we’re very, very proud of that.”

Zizzo and team will be in attendance at the APEX and SEMA shows this upcoming week in Las Vegas and will be present at the NHRA breakfast Wednesday morning.


Rust-Oleum Top Fuel driver, TJ Zizzo qualifies No. 12

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31)  –  On this Halloween, Rust-Oleum Top Fuel driver, TJ Zizzo had a trick and then a treat after his first day of qualifying at the Toyota Nationals on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Zizzo Nationals

TJ Qualifying 12th on Friday

Zizzo in his opening session left the line under power and then quickly spun the tires suffering engine damage resulting in a time of 5.036 seconds.

“We were concerned about just about just making the second qualifying session,” said a relieved Zizzo.  “The first pass was such an event; it kicked a rod out causing catastrophic damage to the engine.  But we got it together, borrowed some parts from our neighbors in the pits and that worked out very well.  It went right down the groove the later session.”

That second session produced the desired outcome for the Rust-Oleum team with a clean and smooth pass of 4.835 seconds at speed of 316.15 mph.

“We wanted to go a little quicker, but it ended up not going all the way to the finish line under full power, but it went well and we ended up No. 12 by a thousandth of a second.”

He gets to carry over his provisional qualifying time of 3.835 seconds to tomorrow’s rounds giving Zizzo added relief.

“It’s a huge benefit,” said Zizzo.  “Our team always goes above and beyond for anything we need to get done.  It was pretty neat to run that 3.83.  I could feel the car pulling all the way down and we’ll have to get after it tomorrow.  There are plenty of good cars behind us.  Being No. 12 qualifier is great, but that really doesn’t mean anything.  There’s a lot going on there, so we’re going to have to stand on it the first round tomorrow.  The weather is going to be different on Saturday calling for it to be cooler here.  The times should go down and the speeds go up, so we’ll have to keep up with the Jones’.”

Qualifying continues on Saturday with two more sessions at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. PDT with ESPN2 coverage of qualifying starting at 3 a.m. EST, Sunday morning with a replay at 1 p.m.



Stunning finish for Zizzo Racing At the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 1) — Well if you can’t win it, be spectacular and that’s what happened in the first round of Monday’s eliminations at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for Top Fuel driver, T.J. Zizzo.

As the RustOleum dragster started making a charge on opponent Bob Vandergriff in the first round of eliminations a camshaft suddenly and unexpectedly broke causing a massive explosion in the engine area.  T.J. was fine after being checked out by the NHRA Safety Safari.

“That was probably our biggest boomer of our career,” said Zizzo, the No. 11 qualifier in the quickest Top Fuel field ever.  “Yeah, it was definitely a broken camshaft.  For the weekend we had the baddest hot rod we ever had in probably a long, long time, if not ever.  We had a great race car and our crew worked really hard at it.  Sometimes you have mechanical failure in these deals.”

In his race, Vandergriff won the round recording a time 3.805 seconds, 323.43 mph as Zizzo coasted to a time of 4.301 seconds, 186.90 mph.

“He was out on us a just a little bit and I started to catch up and then it went boom and bang and our day was over,” said Zizzo.

Zizzo was pleased with his team’s performance over the weekend running a career best time of 3.795 seconds in qualifying and announcing RustOleum as a partner on his race team on Friday.

“We certainly showed RustOleum what the sport of NHRA Drag Racing was all about,” smiled Zizzo.  “It’s exciting to have a nice solid future with them and I can’t wait to show them their first round win in Las Vegas.”

Zizzo Racing’s next event will be the Toyota Nationals on The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 31 – Nov. 2.





Zizzo Racing Knows Consistency is the Key to Winning Indy

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 31) – The RustOleum Top Fuel driver, T.J. Zizzo will start the 60th annual NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals from the No. 11 starting position and will race Bob Vandergriff in the first round of Labor Day Monday’s Eliminations at the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

The last time Zizzo raced Vandergriff was in 2007, ironically again in the first round at Indy.

Zizzo all weekend long has been on a rail of consistency running in the low 4.80s dropping his career best elapsed time to now 3.795 seconds in the Saturday evening third qualifying session.

“Our RustOleum crew gets to take all the credit and I get to stand on the throttle of a rocket ship, that’s all I get to do, it’s all good with me” said a happy Zizzo.  ”Our crew for a group of volunteer guys, have put their heart and soul into this program and I’m very proud of them.

“We’re fortunate to have one of the most consistent race cars on the premises.  Today in Q-5 we pushed it a bit too much.  It was done on purpose to see what this car will run and that’s the reason we didn’t go down the track.  We had a completely different combination in the car from where we were yesterday.  Today, we had less compression and more overdrive.  We made the change in our combination and were the sixth quickest in Q-4.  We have nothing to complain about and it’s going straight down the racetrack.  We’re here to win.”

With RustOleum as a partner, he’s given his fans the choice to pick the color of the stripe that separates the red and white paint scheme on his race car on

For Sunday, they picked Blue and for race day, the fans have voted for Pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.

Six hours of Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Television coverage starts at 12:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN2 and ESPN3 subscribers can watch it live starting at 11:00 a.m.





Zizzo Runs Career Best Time of 3.795 seconds; No. 10

CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 30) – The RustOleum Top Fuel dragster driven by T.J. Zizzo had a remarkable Saturday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals by running his quickest elapsed time of his career of 3.795 seconds, 319.22 mph to land in the No. 10 provisional starting position after three of the five qualifying sessions.

In Saturday’s opening pass, Zizzo recorded a time of 3.829 seconds, 321.58 mph.

“This weekend has been absolutely awesome,” said a beaming Zizzo. “To pull out a new marketing partner in RustOleum at this event and running a career best time today is pretty much ‘bad to the bone’ for us.”

Zizzo is changing the stripe on his dragster and is letting fans vote at  and fans decided to change it to blue for Sunday.

“The fans voted blue and that’s the color it will be for Sunday,” smiled Zizzo.  “I have to give credit to John Kernan of ESPN for coming up with the idea.  Tomorrow we’re doing it again to see what color they will pick for Monday’s race.”

Qualifying continues on Sunday with two more nitro sessions 12:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. EDT.




A Relationship Built on Coatings

Rust-Oleum Partners with TJ Zizzo, NHRA Top Fuel Racer of Zizzo Racing Incorporated

Vernon Hills, Ill., Aug. 29, 2014 – Rust-Oleum will partner with TJ Zizzo, auto body manager and top fuel dragster driver of Zizzo Racing Incorporated, a 12-person, all volunteer racing team, the company announced today. The announcement of the dual partnership was revealed at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Rust-Oleum will sponsor the Lincolnshire, Illinois based family-owned Zizzo racing team at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals and Toyota Nationals Races. According to, “The NHRA is the world’s largest auto racing organization.”

Beyond racing, Rust-Oleum and Zizzo have worked together for years to conduct product testing and research.

“Rust-Oleum Automotive is always looking for new opportunities to enhance and create innovative products for car enthusiasts,” said Mac O’Brien, director of Automotive Brands for Rust-Oleum. “This relationship has been beneficial for both parties. We are proud to work with such a prestigious and dedicated driver who is passionate about his work and giving back to the community.”

Zizzo Racing was established over 30 years ago. Team owner, professional Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Fuel Dragster driver Tony Zizzo Sr. began competing in 1980 and passed his passion for racing onto his son. Today, Zizzo is a top level competitor who has competed in dozens of NHRA events.

“We truly appreciate having the automotive brands of Rust-Oleum on board our Zizzo Racing Top Fuel dragster for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals this weekend,” said Zizzo.  “Just as we had on our dragster in Chicago earlier this year; we’re knocking off the rust and we can do that with a great partner in Rust-Oleum.”

The NHRA was founded in 1951 by Wally Parks as a safe alternative to street racing.