JOLIET, Ill.—For Zizzo Racing, there is one week on the calendar that stands out year after year: The NHRA Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway here in Joliet, Ill. It’s the team’s home track and for the pilot of the Rust-Oleum Rocket, it’s a chance to improve on the three semi-final appearances he’s achieved, two of them from the 16th qualifying spot.
After another semi-final appearance at the team’s season opener in Gainesville, Fla. at the 50th Annual NHRA Gatornationals, Zizzo is ready to continue moving forward.
“We lost in the semi-finals thanks to, truly, a $30 rocker arm adjuster,” Zizzo said. “Guess what? All those were replaced. We actually replaced a lot in the valve train, stuff that was maybe a little tired that we didn’t know was tired. We’ve done our due diligence in replacing all the small things that bite us on occasion. I feel like we have all the big pieces in place, but our crew chief (Mike Kern) wants all the small pieces in place, too. Which is pretty cool.”
Despite the team’s success at the Gators, that race is far gone in the rearview mirror. Joliet is where Zizzo and his long-time crew of volunteers show their recent successes are no fluke.
“We just went to Gainesville and had a great event, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “That’s in the past. We enter Joliet and there are truly 16 capable cars of winning the event and running in the .70s, so that’s pretty spectacular. There’s 21 cars total, so all you gotta do is make a little mistake and you’re already outside looking in for Sunday.”
For the team, one of the biggest components of the weekend is racing in front of employees of their primary sponsor, Rust-Oleum, also located in Illinois. “We’re going to have approximately 50 Rust-Oleum employees and their families with us this weekend. That’s pretty awesome! They want to come out and support their race team.”
Nitro School: Once again, TJ teams up with NHRA Announcer Alan Reinhart for Nitro School Saturday afternoon at 12.45! “I’m excited because I have the opportunity to do Nitro School, something that was created around our team and we helped NHRA create it. So that’s cool, I’m always honored to co-host with Alan Reinhart.
Nitro Cakes: Another Joliet tradition for Zizzo Racing is TJ’s world-famous Nitro Cakes! Fans are invited to the Rust-Oleum pit Saturday morning at 9 to chow down on some FREE pancakes. “That’s something that every fan remembers. I get more fans excited about our pancakes than I do going to the semi-final round at Joliet a couple years ago! Pretty amazing.”
Nitro qualifying for the NHRA Route 66 Nationals kick off Friday night at 6:15 local time with the second round scheduled for 8:45. Q3 kicks off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with qualifying wrapping up its final round at 6 p.m. Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
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, Instagram at @TJZizzo, and Facebook.com/TJZizzo.