HIGH POINT, N.C. (March 22, 2022) – Last weekend’s race result aside, anyone who follows the TA2 class of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will agree Connor Zilisch is heading to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, for Saturday’s Atlanta SpeedTour with a boatload of momentum.
The 15-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina, served notice last weekend on his hometown Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval that he and his Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro will be among the car-and-driver combinations to beat for the remainder of the 2022 season.
In only his third career TA2 race weekend, Zilisch laid down Friday’s fastest laps in practice and qualifying, the latter with a lap of 1:20.310 around the 2.25-mile, 17-turn Charlotte Roval that surpassed the track record. It certainly brought back memories of Zilisch’s TA2 debut last fall at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, where he became the youngest pole-winner in Trans Am history with a lap of 1:48.905. Zilisch’s second career pole and record lap were nullified at Charlotte, however, when his racecar was found to be a small fraction of an inch low in post-qualifying tech inspection, leaving him with the 28th and final starting position for Saturday’s 45-lap race.
Unfazed, the young Zilisch tightened up his belts and wasted no time Saturday charging toward the front from the wave of the green flag, working his way into the top-15 by the 15th lap of the race. Along the way, he turned a lap of 1:21.967 that earned the young driver the Omologato Fastest Lap of the Race Award. Zilisch was the only driver to crack the 1-minute, 22-second barrier the entire race, and he did it on multiple occasions.
The only blemish to an otherwise stout weekend on the track, however, came on lap 15 when Zilisch began losing electrical power. The culprit turned out to be a single, frayed piece of wiring that required two trips to pit lane to remedy. It cost him five laps and any chance of a highly anticipated top finish, but once he rejoined the race in earnest, Zilisch continued to run laps a second or more faster than the leaders on a consistent basis. He was up to 19th when the checkered flag flew.
This weekend, Silver Hare Racing returns to a two-car entry with Zilisch back in the No. 57 Camaro he raced last weekend, and team owner Maurice Hull behind the wheel of the No. 75 Waukegan Farms/Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Camaro, and both are relishing the opportunity to put the speed Zilisch enjoyed at Charlotte to work on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit. Hull stepped out of the cockpit last weekend while recovering from burns he suffered at Sebring as the result of a damaged coolsuit system.
Both Silver Hare drivers are tremendously fond of Road Atlanta and have enjoyed some of their most successful outings there, Zilisch racing Mazdas and Hull racing vintage stock cars. Just two weekends ago, Zilisch took part in a Spec Miata doubleheader at the track, winning one race, finishing runner-up in the other, and qualifying on the pole among a field of 60 competitors. In last fall’s Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 doubleheader during Petit Le Mans weekend at Road Atlanta, Zilisch set a track race-lap record in the first race and brought home a top-five finish in the second.
While this weekend marks Zilisch’s first TA2 race at Road Atlanta and only his fourth ever, Hull returns to the track where in 2020 he clinched the his second consecutive TA2 masters championship when the race served as the Trans Am season finale. When the race was moved to March last season, Hull drove his Silver Hare Camaro to a 13th-place overall finish that was tops in the masters class.
A field of 46 TA2 competitors are entered for Saturday’s 40-lap race, set for a 12:40 p.m. EDT start. Zilisch and Hull hope momentum is in their corner and the gremlins stay in the rearview mirror, along with the rest of the field, as they vie for a top finish during the third race weekend of the season.
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 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,” said Laura Hull, team manager, Silver Hare Racing. “We want to be that important step in the ladder for the young, up-and-coming drivers like Connor, which we’re 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.”