HIGH POINT, N.C. (Feb. 24, 2022) – Maurice Hull became a teenager a month and 11 days before the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli debuted on March 25, 1966 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. In 2006, Connor Zilisch was born the year America’s Road-Racing Series returned to the iconic 17-turn, 3.74-mile racetrack for the 40th time.
This weekend in the Trans Am season opener at Sebring, Hull and Zilisch will be teammates at Silver Hare Racing, a staple of Trans Am since 2018 that has won the TA2 Masters class championship with Hull as both driver and team co-owner three times (2018, 2019 and 2020). The 69-year-old Hull and the 15-year-old Zilisch will pilot a pair of Chevrolet Camaros in the TA2 class during the Sebring Speed Tour where a packed, 48-car TA2 field takes the green flag at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday.
Hull co-owns Silver Hare Racing with his wife and team manager, Laura. The driver of the No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/Waukegan Farms Chevrolet Camaro followed up his most recent Masters class title with a runner-up points finish in the same division last year. Sunday’s 75-minute race will be Hull’s fifth TA2 start at Sebring, and in addition to his four previous TA2 starts there, Hull has plenty of vintage racing experience at the historic, concrete-clad circuit, including a sweep of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) doubleheader event in 2017.
Zilisch, meanwhile, will make just his second career TA2 start on Sunday. The 10th-grader from Mooresville, North Carolina, made his TA2 debut last fall at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, where he became the youngest pole-winner in series history with a track-record lap of 1:48.905.
Zilisch began racing go-karts at age 4 and has scored multiple karting championships nationally and overseas in the ultra-competitive European ranks. In Italy, Zilisch scored the 2017 ROK Cup Superfinal championship in the Mini ROK category and the 2020 FIA Academy Trophy title. The 2021 season was his first year racing cars.
Zilisch has made the transition to cars appear seamless. He finished third in the Spec Miata race during the SCCA National Championships Oct. 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and set three separate lap records – two in Spec Miata at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, and Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw County, South Carolina, respectively, and one in MX-5 at Road Atlanta.
Zilisch will augment his time in Trans Am with a full season of Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup, the signature spec series for Mazda Motorsports. Zilisch was the top winner of the series’ scholarship, earning $110,000 to take part in the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Cup where he will contend for the $80,000 rookie-of-the-year award and the $250,000 championship prize.
In fact, Zilisch is pulling double-duty this weekend in Florida, competing Friday afternoon and Saturday morning on the Streets of St. Petersburg in Rounds 3 and 4 of Mazda MX-5 Cup. He opened strong in the series’ first two events during Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend last month, finishing fourth and clocking the fastest lap in the first race, then qualifying on the pole before finishing seventh in the second race. He’ll arrive at Sebring on Saturday in time for qualifying at 5:45 p.m. EST where he’ll pilot the No. 5 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro.
Silver Hare Racing leverages its Trans Am effort to promote its arrive-and-drive program, where aspiring racers and even tenured professionals hone their road-racing skills on some of the most revered tracks in North America. NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suárez, William Byron, Harrison Burton and Christopher Bell have all wheeled Silver Hare Racing-prepared cars to burnish their road-racing abilities. In addition to top-flight equipment, Silver Hare Racing provides professional driver coaching by general manager Michael Self, an ARCA and NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran.
The team offers six, professionally built and maintained TA2 chassis from Howe Racing for both competition and private testing. Silver Hare Racing has a dedicated, fulltime crew and operates out of a state-of-the-art facility in High Point, North Carolina. At the track, two 53-foot Featherlite transporters serve as the team’s base, each outfitted with a lounge and smart TVs for data and video review, as well as for hospitality.
“With NASCAR having so many more road-course races, it’s our goal for Silver Hare Racing to be the preferred team for drivers to get that road-course experience,” Laura Hull said. “We want to be that important step in the ladder for the young, up-and-coming drivers like Connor, which we are doing in collaboration with Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
“It started when they brought him to us for testing at VIR a year ago, and now we’re delighted to have him under contract. That’s how we’re trying to position this. We want people to know we have an arrive-and-drive program, where people who want to run this track or another, we provide the opportunity for them to do that and be successful.”
|Connor Zilisch, driver No. 5 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro:|
“I’m really excited to be running with Silver Hare this year. I think we can do really well. We’re going to have to put in a lot of work to get me understanding the car and how to race it. I’ll have to adapt to the crew guys and how they adjust stuff, and they’ll have to adapt to my feedback. But I definitely think if we can work well together, we can run up front. We’re here to win, so we’re going to do whatever we can to do that, and I’m looking to make that happen.
“They’ve won a championship, so I definitely think they have what we need to run up front. I really like Maurice and Laura, the team owners. They’ve treated me really well and have guided me throughout this process. I’m just really excited to get working with everyone. The whole crew is amazing. They work their butts off to bring me a fast car and I’m just excited to go out there and do my best.
“The TA2 cars are way different than anything I’ve ever driven. Obviously, I grew up racing go-karts, which are light and they’re fast. The Trans Am car is light and fast, but it’s still a stock car, so it doesn’t handle quite as well as what I’m used to, but I’m definitely getting used to it. And with more time, I’m just going to get faster and faster. It’s going to take some adapting, but I’m up for the task. I’ve got a good understanding of it but, obviously, more seat time is going to bring more experience, and with that comes speed, which will come throughout the year. I think through the car and through my driving, as well, there’s still a lot to learn, but that’s what makes it exciting.
“There are some good guys out there. Rafa Matos, he’s obviously going to be running up front this year, along with Thomas Merrill and Connor Mosack. They definitely won’t make it easy on me but, once again, that just makes it fun, the competition.
“I had been to Sebring in Miatas, previously. It’s definitely a unique track. There’s really no track like it. It’s got its own characteristics, the bumps, how flat it is. You definitely have to drive it a little differently than you do anywhere else because of the bumps, avoiding bumps and stuff like that. I think it’ll suit me well because I always seem to do well when other people struggle. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there because it’s one of my favorite tracks.
“Our test at Sebring last month was good. Maurice drove the car the first day – it was a two-day test. Then I got in the second day. It was quick.
“I’ll be in St. Pete running the MX-5 Cup with Mazda and INDYCAR on Friday and Saturday. Once I finish my second race – the 10 a.m. race on Saturday – we’ll drive to Sebring to make 5:45 p.m. qualifying. I’m basically going into the race at Sebring with zero practice. Meanwhile, everyone will have already tested there and done two practices before I get there. So I’m a little bit behind the eight-ball, but I’m excited for it. I’m really hoping we can do well. I’m going to have to use the whole qualifying session and, hopefully, there won’t be any issues out there that limit the amount of laps in the session because that would be unfortunate. But it’s definitely going to take some strategy and a lot of prep work to do well. I’ve already been prepping a bunch on the sim and trying to get ahead as much as I can before I get there.”
|Maurice Hull, owner/driver No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/Waukegan Farms Chevrolet Camaro:|
“I think having Connor join us this season is going to be really exciting because he’s going to add a real youthful approach to everything. We already have youth up and down the organization, but Connor is so extremely talented, he’s –very polished for his age. I think we’re going to learn a lot from each other. I hope he teaches the old dogs some new tricks. He approaches the sport completely different and, hopefully, I can use some experience from some of the things that I’ve done to help him out.
“As an evolving team, we’re finding our niche. Laura and I both love the sport and we have a great passion for the sport. We’re both very competitive, we’re both in this to win, and we want to build something that’s got some longevity and some respect. Eventually, I’m not going to drive. I love it a lot and I’m glad they have a Masters class for drivers who are 60 years and older. There are 48 cars entered at Sebring, and there’s a lot of talent there. It’s gotten progressively deeper in talent since I started driving. The first race I ran four years ago, I finished seventh and was not happy that I finished seventh because I felt like I should’ve finished fifth and I’d screwed up. Now, if I finish top-five, that would really be something. So, it’s changed considerably.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting year. It’s a program where we want to continue having younger drivers come up through the ranks with us. We feel that’s an area where we can offer something unique. We’ve got a heck of a driver coach in-house in Michael Self, our general manager. We’ve got all this equipment. We’ve got cameras and data and more technology than you can shake a stick at. We run out of a former NASCAR Cup Series shop and it’s a heck of a facility. We’ve got good equipment, and when we show up, we show up. We’re trying to get all the basic pieces together for success. We’ve had name drivers – Daniel Suarez, William Byron, Harrison Burton, Christopher Bell – guys who wanted to rent a car and run well at a particular track. If we can establish ourselves as a major step on that ladder to excel in road racing, that’s where we want to be.
“We learned a lot at our Sebring test last month. We were fast. Connor jumped in the car and he was as fast as the pole qualifying time from last year in a very short time. The cars drove well. This weekend, we won’t see Connor until he drives over from St. Pete in time for qualifying late Saturday. I’ll shake his car down Friday and Saturday morning.
“I used to race vintage stock cars at Sebring in both HSR and SVRA and we were always dominant in those. One of the last times I raced there, in 2017, they had two races that weekend with a field of 30 stock cars. And I won both races that year, and won one of the two races the following year. We were running really nice equipment, Petty road-race cars with current motors. Those things were amazingly fast. So, interestingly enough, after that double-win weekend, we stuck around and watched the TA2 race and thought it looked way more fun. So, the very next week I went out and bought a TA2 car and that’s how all of this started. I’ve been running TA2 at Sebring since 2018.”
|About Silver Hare Racing:|
Silver Hare Racing is a fulltime competitor in the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. The multicar team has won the TA2 Masters class championship three times (2018, 2019 and 2020) with driver and team co-owner Maurice Hull. Under the leadership of Hull’s wife, co-owner and team manager Laura Hull, and general manager Michael Self, Silver Hare Racing provides a variety of services that includes private testing and arrive-and-drive programs. The team offers six, professionally built and maintained TA2 chassis from Howe Racing and operates from a state-of-the-art facility in High Point, North Carolina. For more information, please visit SilverHareRacing.com.