TORONTO, ON // FEBRUARY 27, 2019 • TJ Zizzo is one of those veteran drag racers who has come to realize that ‘quality over quantity’ will often produce the most satisfying results. The NHRA Top Fuel driver has run a partial schedule in recent years, driving the Rust-Oleum-sponsored dragster.
Courtesy of Rust-Oleum Canada, Zizzo will attend the Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo on Friday and Saturday (March 8 & 9). While at the show, at Toronto’s International Centre, he’ll participate in various panel discussions and awards presentations on the Rust-Oleum Stage, including the Automotive Education session geared toward students interested in an automotive career, on Friday at 11:30 a.m.
Zizzo will also connect with fans at the Rust-Oleum Autograph Booth, signing autograph cards and taking pictures.
“Back when we started in Top Fuel, we’d do 15 or 16 events every year,” said the second-generation racer. “Those days, it would cost us about $8,000 a run. Now, you’re looking at three times that amount each time you make a pass. Naturally, we’d like to do more races, but we’d rather spend our money wisely, doing selected races and do those well.”
Zizzo continued, “People wonder how we do it. We stay quiet for three months or so, but we’re continually working on the car. Then we show up and out-qualify some of the frontrunners.”
Zizzo jokes about his operation being a ‘sleeper team.’ Among some of his most recent race ‘victims’ are champions Tony Schumacher and Brittany Force.
Discussing his participation in the Friday Automotive Education session at Motorama, Zizzo said, “Kids need an incentive to try something different, something where you don’t necessarily need a college education to do well. There are many awesome opportunities in the auto industry if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty.”
When he’s not racing or thrashing on his 10,000 horsepower Rust-Oleum Rocket Top Fuel dragster, Zizzo owns and operates his own auto body repair and refinishing shop, in Illinois. His hands-on knowledge of automotive paints and finishes was a major factor in Zizzo Racing partnering with Rust-Oleum, as the team’s primary sponsor, in 2014.
“Rust-Oleum and Zizzo Racing enjoy a true partnership,” said Zizzo. “It’s a great, two-way working relationship. Their headquarters are about five miles down the road from me and we are constantly working back-and-forth. We help them out with their research and development of new products. We also do work training their employees. In return, they help us out by supporting this racing obsession of mine.”
When it comes to his drag racing, Zizzo admits to having a soft spot for Canadian drag racing fans.
“My dad raced at Sanair back before I got started. And I’ve raced IHRA at Edmonton, Grand Bend and Cayuga (Toronto Motorsports Park). I have to say that I’ve never encountered fans who are as well informed, and as enthusiastic, as the ones from Canada. Some of these people are downright crazy, but those are the best kind of fans. It will be great to be able to connect with them at the Motorama show.”
Ideally, Zizzo had hoped to be at Motorama all three days of the show, but his racing schedule will force him to leave Toronto one day early.
“I have to leave Saturday night in order to get home in time to load the truck and head off to Gainesville (Florida) for the NHRA Gatornationals,” apologized Zizzo. “As much as I love talking racing with the fans, I love actually racing even more. And since we’re only planning on doing three events (Gainesville, Chicago, Indianapolis) this year, we have to make the most of our opportunities.”
ABOUT ZIZZO RACING: Zizzo Racing has been involved in drag racing at the top levels for more than 30 years. Based in Lincolnshire, Ill. and owned by Tony Zizzo, the team started racing in 1980 in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, moving to nitro with TJ in 2004 after earning his class license. In 2007, TJ Zizzo finished second in the final IHRA standings and now competes on a part-time basis in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.
ABOUT RUST-OLEUM: Founded in 1921 by sea captain Robert Ferguson, Rust-Oleum has grown into a global manufacturer of innovative paints and coatings, for professionals and consumers. The company offers a wide product range including decorative fashion paints, durable industrial roof repair coatings and, of course, the famous rust-fighting formula that started it all.
Headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois, the company has offices and factories in 10 countries, including Canada. Rust-Oleum prides itself on having a coating for every application and challenge. For information, visit www.rustoleum.ca.
ABOUT THE MOTORAMA CUSTOM CAR & MOTORSPORTS EXPO: The fifth annual Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo takes place March 8, 9 & 10, 2019 at The International Centre, across from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The show features more than 330,000 square feet of custom cars, hot rods, racing vehicles of all kinds, tuners, displays and exhibitors. Motorama is Canada’s biggest late-winter celebration of automobiles and motorsports. For information about the show, including tickets, sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, and more, call (416) 962-7223, email info@MotoramaShow.com or visit www.MotoramaShow.com.