California Is Calling: Silver Hare Racing Laguna Seca Trans Am Advance
April 20, 2022
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads west for a pair of back-to-back events starting with Sunday’s Trans Am SpeedFest at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California, and concluding just up the Pacific coast at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway with the Sonoma SpeedTour on May 1.
Silver Hare Racing is carrying a pair of its TA2 racing machines for the California swing, one for 15-year-old rising star Connor Zilisch, who’ll be making his fifth career Trans Am start and fourth of the season, the other for 22-year-old Southern Californian Lawless Alan, who’s a fulltime competitor in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2022 and is taking advantage of the Truck Series’ back-to-back off weekends.
Team owner Maurice Hull, who raced at this year’s opening round at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway and the most recent round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., scoring the top Masters finish at the latter, will once again step aside from his driving duties to focus his full attention on overseeing his two-car entry at Laguna Seca and Sonoma.
Zilisch, driver of the No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro, continues to show great speed in the highly competitive TA2 class and his ability to learn racetracks with remarkable quickness. In the most recent TA2 round last March 26 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, he qualified third and was running with the leaders in the closing laps before crossing the finish line sixth. He was subsequently issued a 40-second penalty for contact deemed unavoidable in the early laps of the race.
Nonetheless, the 10th grader from Mooresville, North Carolina, remained true to the form he first displayed last fall in his Trans Am debut at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, where he became the youngest pole-winner in series history with a lap of 1:48.905. Last month, on his hometown Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, Zilisch laid down the fastest practice and qualifying laps, as well as the fastest lap of the race.
As is quickly becoming the norm, Zilisch is expected to be one of the drivers to beat when 45 TA2 entries take to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca road course for Sunday’s 45-lap, 75-minute race set for a 5 p.m. EDT start. It will be his first in-person look at the iconic hillside racetrack, but he’s confident his countless hours racing on it in the simulator will help him make short work of getting up to speed there in his Silver Hare Camaro.
Alan, a native of Van Nuys, California, will be making his competitive debut in Silver Hare equipment when he straps into the No. 25 AUTOParkIt racing machine this weekend. It will be his first Trans Am event since he drove the full 2019 season with Mike Cope Race Cars and earned TA2 Rookie of the Year honors with his fifth-place finish in the final driver standings. He qualified fourth and finished sixth at Laguna Seca that year for one of his nine top-10s in 13 races.
Zilisch and Alan, who first worked together in January at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway in a preseason Silver Hare Racing test, both competed two weekends ago in a World Racing League endurance event that featured twin eight-hour races Saturday and Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. Zilisch drove a BSI Racing Mazda MX5 Cup car in the GP2 class and made an impressive run from 34th place to eighth in the early stages of the Saturday race, but one of his co-drivers was involved in a late-race accident that ended the team’s bid, and also kept it from competing in the Sunday race. Alan co-drove a BMW M4 GT4 entry for Hammer-Motorsports to top-10 finishes both days.
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 offers professional driver coaching.
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.”
Connor Zilisch, driver No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management:
“This will be my first time at Laguna Seca. I’ve driven it on the sim a bunch. I really enjoy driving it. Lots of elevation, and a driver’s track, for sure, so I’m looking forward to that. And being on a new track is always fun. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, so I’m excited to get out there and get going.
“It races well (on the simulator). I always have fun whenever I’m racing it. For my friends and I, it’s always one of the tracks that we race at. The Corkscrew (turns seven and eight) is something a lot of people talk about. I’ve seen lots of pictures and videos of old races there and it’s something that’ll be really cool to do in real life.
“I’ve kept busy the last few weeks, coaching a lot. Two weekends ago I did my first endurance race with WRL at Mid-Ohio, which was really cool. We had some bad luck. We blew up a motor in practice, and in the final stint of Saturday’s race, my teammate got t-boned by a Porsche, which put a hole in the gas tank, so we didn’t to race on Sunday.
“The weekend before that, I got called on Tuesday to go race a shifter kart. So I flew down to NOLA (Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana) and got to race a shifter kart for the first time ever, which was cool, as well – something new. Just trying new things, learning as fast as I can, and it was really good. We finished third out of 20 karts on Sunday. One of the guys in front of me was a European champion, world champion, factory driver. I was up to pace with him, but I’d get tired during the race because those things are physical, especially on that track. It was super technical and bumpy. But it was super cool, learning something new and racing against the people I was racing against.
“That WRL race taught me a lot about patience. Hopefully I can apply that this weekend. The 75 minutes we race in Trans Am is actually a lot of time compared to what I’ve been doing. Kart races are 15, 20 minutes. I know that Trans Am races aren’t going to be easy in the middle of the summer, so I’ve been working out and getting better. Hopefully some results can come our way.
“Lawless (Alan) and I met at Sebring when we tested earlier this year. We’ve been keeping in touch. He’s doing well in the Truck Series. It’ll be cool to have him with us this weekend. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Lawless Alan, driver, No. 25 AUTOParkIt/Silver Hare Racing:
“I’ve run at Laguna Seca once in Trans Am in 2019. That was my first experience there. We were fast that weekend, just made a mistake that took us out of it. We finished (sixth), but it took us out of contention. It’s one of my favorite tracks I’ve raced at in real life, I’d say. It’s just really fun. It flows well, and it always helps when you’re fast there. I had a great time there. The Corkscrew is awesome. Not much else to say about it, other than that I like the flow and all the elevation changes.
“If your car is fast there, you can make opportunities to pass just by rolling more corner speed than somebody else and getting a run down the straight. And all you have to do is brake just a little bit deeper to force them off line and you pretty much have the pass made. It’s not as hard to pass as it might seem.
“I met Maurice (Hull) that year (2019). I was running for Mike Cope, and Maurice would come into our hauler all the time just to watch videos with us. So I’ve known them (Maurice and Laura Hull) since I’ve been running TA2, and this time we’re rolling with them. The cars are fast, which we learned at the test at Sebring, so I’m excited about this weekend.
“The (NASCAR) Trucks and the TA2 cars are so different, but I think it’ll be good racing in a series that I’ve raced in before at tracks that I’ve raced at before, and just being aggressive racing with the guys up at the front in TA2. And I’m hoping that’ll translate into confidence for me in the Truck Series, looking to take some of the speed and the confidence I get in TA2 to where we’re battling up at the front in the Truck Series.”
Maurice Hull, owner, Silver Hare Racing:
“I’m stepping out of the car these next two races to help give our full attention with our staff to support our two young drivers who are moving rapidly forward in their respective careers.
“We should be very fast at Laguna Seca. We spent all our time getting these two cars ready. The dedication of the crew at the shop was very narrowly focused on these two cars and we feel really good about them. We brought (NASCAR veteran) Gil Martin on board as our new director of competition and he’s been working very closely with Derick Jennings and Jeff Holley on our preparation and our game plan for what we’re bringing out West.
“Having the three weeks off since Road Atlanta gave us a lot of extra time to devote to the West Coast races and it’s been very helpful. It’s a long haul out there and back for the crew for these next two races. It’s an endurance test in itself. The goal will be keeping our cars clean and avoiding any problems on the track at Laguna because, if we happen to need to do any major work between the two races, it could put us in a bind.
“We’re running Lawless for the first time these next two races. He’s shown some real talent in the Truck Series. He’s had some great finishes in his first full year in the series. He was TA2 Rookie of the Year back in 2019, so he’s well acquainted in the Trans Am cars. With the additional experience he’s picked up since then in a variety of other series, I’m looking forward to seeing him run extremely well up front. He was quick when we tested down in Sebring earlier this year. If he’s learned anything, it’ll be demonstrated in the racing. It’s one thing to drive fast and another thing to race. It’s huge to be able to run fast and clean and finish well in the race.”
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, 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.