The original version of this article was published in Half Times, the digital magazine for Robert Half employees.

Drag racing on the weekends helps Tommy Zapp, director of permanent placement for Robert Half’s finance and accounting practice group in Phoenix, Ariz., recharge to have the drive he needs to succeed during the workweek.

Tommy started drag racing a few years ago, driving in the National Hot Rod Association’s Southwest Regional Division and other bracket racing events throughout the United States. He drives his supercharged 2010 Camaro SS (featured above), which he says reminds him of one of the cars his father, Rich, used to race.

“Racing allows me to escape and do something I love,” Tommy says. “Working at Robert Half has given me the opportunity to chase this, and it allows me to come back to the office fresh every Monday.”

Tommy joined Robert Half in 2015, saying it was the best decision that he has ever made. He enjoys having a fulfilling professional purpose, as well as the financial resources to keep racing. Having the flexibility and technological mobility to follow up on business remotely sometimes allows him to get an early start on his weekend racing.

“It’s not unusual for me to work with clients while I’m at the racetrack,” he says.

Racing can also be a conversation starter with clients. “I used to drive the same car I raced every day, and clients would ask about it.” Today, he brings up drag racing in client visits if he knows the client is interested in cars.

Drawing parallels between racing and recruiting

Racing has always been part of Tommy’s life. He grew up in Ohio, hanging out at drag strips on the weekends while his father, uncles and cousins raced. In high school, Tommy even tried a few turns at the wheel of his dad’s 1989 Camaro IROC Z-28.

Racing is a bit more complex now. In bracket racing, Tommy must gauge his car’s potential time on a quarter-mile track based on past performance and current weather and track conditions to handicap his race car against significantly different vehicles. If he goes faster than his projection — within thousandths of a second — he’s disqualified.

Tommy’s dad used to help him at the track by phone, strategizing his car setup and dial-in time. Sadly, Rich passed away recently. “He was the inspiration for me from a young age growing up and the main reason I got into this,” Tommy says.

Tommy recently took on the ambitious task of completely rebuilding his race car. “Everything has to be set exactly right in your car for it to run consistently. A half a pound of air pressure in a tire can make a difference,” Tommy explains. “Racing is not that different from talent recruiting in that it takes a team to succeed, and the littlest details can make all the difference.”

Tommy appreciates the village it takes to succeed, whether at play or work. “I couldn’t do this on my own, and can’t thank enough all the people who support me in this venture,” he says. “Racing has been a family affair in the Zapp family for as long as I can remember and remains that way. Even in the absence of my dad, my cousins Matt, Mike, Jeff and Zach and Uncle Bob are always a phone call away to lend an ear and give some often-needed words of wisdom.”

“Same goes for Robert Half,” Tommy continues. “A lot of people think of recruiters as a one-person show, but I couldn’t do and be in the situation I’m in without our leadership and the people around me every day who staff positions. Our team is what makes all of us look good.”

Follow Tommy Zapp on LinkedIn.


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