Memorial Day Classic Next Target for Silver Hare Racing
The most recent race winner on the 2023 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series tour, Silver Hare Racing’s Connor Zilisch, has been itching to get back on the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli trail since he captured his first career TA2-class victory March 26 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
After an eight-week break in the schedule, the 16-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina, will finally get his wish as he and his Silver Hare Racing teammate, 14-year-old Ben Maier of Chester, Maryland, head to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut, for this weekend’s traditional Memorial Day Classic, a focal point of New England’s road-racing culture dating back to 1972.
Saturday’s 68-lap, 75-minute race around the 1.48-mile, seven-turn “Classic” configuration at scenic Lime Rock takes Zilisch and the Silver Hare team to an event they can rightfully feel owes them one. A year ago this weekend, in just his seventh career TA2 start, Zilisch saw a potential top-five run on race day end prematurely when a rock punctured a waterline under the hood of his Silver Hare Racing Camaro, leading to overheating issues that ended his day less than a third of the way through the scheduled race distance.
Still, he and the team feel confident there is momentum to bank on from not only the victory at Road Atlanta, but Zilisch’s successes away from the TA2 Series in the eight weeks since, to help carry them over the top once again this weekend.
Always one to search for opportunities during the Trans Am off weekends to perfect his racecraft by competing in other forms of racing, Zilisch most recently joined the ranks of the CARS Tour for Pro Late Models and Late Model Stock cars, which races on short tracks throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. His debut in that series came in typical head-turning fashion April 22 on the .363-mile Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway oval, where he qualified on the Pro Late Model pole and finished third in the series’ second round of the season. Two weeks later, Zilisch qualified fourth for the May 5 event at the .4-mile Ace Speedway oval in Altamahaw, North Carolina, led 26 laps and scored the Pro Late Model victory in just his second start. Then, last week, he qualified sixth and finished third on the .625-mile oval at the newly renovated North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway during this year’s NASCAR All-Star Race festivities. Zilisch pulled double duty by also competing in the Late Model Stock class at all three events, posting finishes of eighth at Hickory and 12th at Ace before a multicar accident at North Wilkesboro ended his bid in that race, as well as that of a handful of other drivers in the NASCAR star-studded field.
Add his May 13 victory at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors as a fulltime competitor last year, and it’s no wonder Zilisch is anxious to get back to business in his Silver Hare Racing Camaro at Lime Rock this weekend. He arrives third in the TA2 driver standings after his seventh-place finish at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, fourth-place finish at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana, and the victory at Road Atlanta.
Maier, a TA2 class rookie whose racing background includes numerous karting titles and SCCA Regional competition, as well as forays into Stadium Super Trucks, Nitro Rallycross and NASA’s Spec Miata championship in recent years, has utilized the combination of his racing prowess mixed with patience and saavy in executing clean race weekend performances at each of the three TA2 rounds this season. After finishes of 21st at Sebring, ninth at NOLA and 20th at Road Atlanta, Mayer is 13th in the driver standings and third in the TA2 rookie standings heading to Lime Rock, where he scored a victory in the SCCA Northeast Regionals last June in his only previous outing at the track.
As are all Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series events this season, Saturday’s race, set for a 1 p.m. EDT start, will be live streamed via the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. The series’ new television partner MAVTV will air a 60-minute version of the race at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 1.
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, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Harrison Burton have all wheeled Silver Hare Racing-prepared cars to burnish their road-racing abilities in top-flight equipment.
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.
To further enhance Silver Hare Racing’s driver development capabilities, the team’s race shop in High Point is now equipped with a SHOCKWAVE Simulator, a tool specifically developed for drivers to accelerate racetrack familiarity, improve car control and confidence, and build stamina. SHOCKWAVE has been involved in racing since 1965 and is currently actively participating in NASCAR, ARCA, Trans Am, Late Models, and Sprint cars. Its Trans Am package replicates a Howe Racing TA2 chassis, complete with cockpit controls and sounds.
“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, Silver Hare Racing co-owner and team manager. “We want to be that important step in the ladder for the young, up-and-coming drivers like Connor and Ben. We want people to know we have an arrive-and-drive program, where for people who want to run this track or another, we provide the opportunity to do that and be successful.”
Connor Zilisch, driver, No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro:
Ben Maier, driver, No. 75 Silver Hare Racing/Gel Blaster Chevrolet Camaro:
Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
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