Zizzo Picking Up Where He Left Off: Pomona
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. - The last time TJ Zizzo and the PEAK/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel dragster was on the track, the Illinois-native took a round-one loss to Cory McClenathen during eliminations in the season finale at Pomona, Calif. It was the first time the team had ended their season there and in continuing with first-time experiences, Zizzo Racing is returning to the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for this weekend's 51st Annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals.
With the team competing at both the 2010 season finale and the 2011 season opener, it means Zizzo Racing has had less time than ever to prepare their dragster, but Zizzo, 35, said they're not worried about a shorter offseason.
"Our 'offseason' was shorter than the space between the races at Joliet and Indy last year," Zizzo said as he made last-minute preparations for his trip to Southern California. "A huge part of that has been the fact our team is still completely intact for the third-straight year. We all enjoy working and racing together and I think our performance in 2011 is really going to reflect that."
A foundation for the team's strong 2010 season was crew chief Mike Kern, who kept the PEAK/Herculiner rail consistent at every race they attended. Zizzo was able to get his car from A-B 70 percent of the runs in 2010 compared to a mere 38 percent in 2009.
One team member is a regular at Pomona for the Winternationals and has been for years. Normally, however, clutch specialist Tony "TS" Smith is on vacation in Pomona and watching from the stands. "TS usually heads out there to get a little R-and-R, but this year, he's going to be working hard to ensure our car heads down the track at its PEAK!
"I can't wait to slip on my fire suit, have my dad strap me in and stand on the gas," said the driver National Dragster called 'loquacious' (a term Zizzo had to look up). "After the first burnout, all the fans in the stands might even be able see me smiling ear to ear through my helmet visor."
Meet TJ:The pilot of the PEAK/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel dragster will be at the O'Reilly Auto Parts location at 355 West Holt Ave., in Pomona Wednesday 12-2 p.m. PT. TJ will meet with fans for pictures and autographs.