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TJ Zizzo Gears Up for U.S. Nationals with Dominance on the Horizon

For TJ Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster team, the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals is business as usual. The second-generation driver, who raced to the Top Fuel final round in 2020 at the famed Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, is confident that he has the skills and the car to get the job done.
“We are coming into this race with several wins already under our belt this season, including rounds in Indy,” said Zizzo, who is a resident of Chicago. “Every time we are on the track, our goal is to qualify to the best of our ability based on the conditions. From there, we go out on race day ready to have fun and win rounds.”

Zizzo’s confidence derives from his team’s strong debut this season, despite being out of the competition since 2021. At Zizzo’s hometown race, the Gerber Collision & Glass Rt. 66 Nationals, he raced into the field as the No. 16 qualifier and upset the No. 1 qualifier in the opening round, having run his personal best elapsed time of 3.712 seconds at 329.99 mph. Zizzo also defeated his second round opponent before bowing out in the semifinals.
“Our success is attributed to our new equipment and the fact that our Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster is running some of the best parts its ever had,” said Zizzo. “Driven by the exceptional leadership of Mike Kern, our team works our tails off at the shop every chance we get, even when we aren’t actively racing.”
The new race car joining Zizzo’s fleet is a courtesy of Don Schumacher, NHRA Hall of Fame driver and team owner. Prior to this addition, Zizzo and his team were limited by their budget, repurposing quality parts to prepare for competitions against better-funded teams. Although they managed to make a commendable effort and saw flashes of success, the team has elevated their game with the updated Top Fuel dragster.
“After competing in St. Louis in 2021, we knew we had to make a change in order to keep up with the best in the sport,” said Zizzo. “We put in our best effort with our older equipment and car, but Don’s offer to build a new car was the necessary catalyst to take our team to the next level.”

Despite the new equipment in his team’s arsenal, it was not easy for Zizzo to recommit to racing. As the owner and operator of a thriving auto body and paint business outside of Chicago, he had maintained a quality team of crew members, but needed to invest in building a race team. With the support of his family, his team and long-time partners, particularly Rust-Oleum, Zizzo and his team crafted a race crew that maximizes their overall competitiveness.
“Our team’s dedication and positivity is constant, no matter the obstacles we face,” said Zizzo. “Beyond our team, we are supported by incredible partners who understand what we are all about. I am thrilled to be back on the track and look forward to continued success this season.”
Zizzo will return to the track for Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals from August 30 to September 4. His team will participate in five qualifying sessions starting on Friday night. The contested race on Monday will be broadcasted nationally on FS1 and FOX.

This story was originally published on August 30, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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