Silver Hare Duo Seeks Redemption at Road America
July 5, 2023
After Mid-Ohio Setback, Connor Zilisch Looks To Get Back to His Winning Ways;
14-Year-Old Rookie Ben Maier Eagerly Anticipates First Taste of Iconic Circuit
HIGH POINT, N.C. (July 5, 2023) – The wide open spaces and friendly twists and turns of the legendary 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, represent a welcome chance at redemption for Silver Hare Racing’s young driver duo of Connor Zilisch and Ben Maier during this weekend’s 3-Dimensional Services Group 100, round eight of the 2023 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series.
The 16-year-old Zilisch, driver of the No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro, was arguably the series’ hottest driver entering round seven two weekends ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, having scored a pair of victories in the previous four races. He promptly laid down the fastest lap in TA2 practice, then came within two-hundredths of a second of qualifying on the pole for the second consecutive event weekend. But a bizarre electrical issue ended his Mid-Ohio race bid before it even started, leaving him with a hugely disappointing 32nd-place result and dropping him from third to fifth in the driver standings.
Meanwhile, the 14-year-old Maier was vying for his third top-10 finish at Mid-Ohio in just his seventh-ever TA2 start in the No. 75 Silver Hare Racing/Gel Blaster Chevrolet Camaro. But he was collected by a spinning driver midway through the race, leaving him with a flat tire that required a trip to pit lane for a quick change, and he was only able to salvage a hugely unsatisfying 22nd-place finish.
With those events behind them, both Silver Hare drivers arrive at the newly repaved Road America circuit bound and determined to right the ship.
Zilisch, who hails from Mooresville, North Carolina, returns to the scene of his triple-duty weekend a year ago, during which he netted a sixth-place finish from the sixth starting position in the TA2 race, and added a doubleheader sweep of the Saturday and Sunday races of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Series. Not surprisingly, he considers Road America his favorite track in the country and looks to springboard his way back into the championship hunt with a top result this weekend. Zilisch certainly has shown his ability to make a comeback, having emerged with the victory from the back of the TA2 field in the second race of the Saturday-Sunday TA2 doubleheader last month on the downtown Detroit street circuit. It was his second victory in the series, the first coming in March at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Maier, who’s from Chester, Maryland, will be seeing the Road America circuit for the first time this weekend and plans to lean heavily on Zilisch’s experience there to help him continue the solid and steady progress he’s made since his TA2 debut in February at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. He posted his first top-10 finish in just the second race of the season when he brought home a ninth-place result at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana, and added a 10th-place finish in the first race of the Detroit doubleheader.
A pair of TA2 test sessions Friday kick off the festivities this weekend, with official practice set for Saturday morning, followed by qualifying at 4:45 p.m. EDT. The green flag for Sunday’s 25-lap, 75-minute race flies at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live video streaming via the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. The series’ new television partner MAVTV will air a 60-minute race show at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 13.
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 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:
“I’m really excited for this weekend, I love Road America. It’s probably one of my favorite tracks in the country and I’ve had a lot of success there throughout the years. We had some challenges there last year on the TA2 side that kind of kept us from running where we really should have. But I’m really confident at that place and I’ve got a lot of notes and a good understanding of the track.
“Obviously, with new asphalt now, it’s going to be a lot faster and a bit different and that’ll be something we’ll have to look toward and remember when we’re going over our notes and what the setup will be like. Those are new variables but it’s still the same, old Road America in my mind and I’m just excited to get back there and run at my favorite place for the first time this year.
“We’re definitely looking for a good finish this weekend after what happened at Mid-Ohio. Points racing kind of goes out the window, now we’re just going to show up and try and get wins and hope that will keep us in the championship fight. Obviously, we’re not out of it, but after not starting the race at Mid-Ohio, it sure as heck isn’t going to be easy. We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep trying to be the fastest car and hopefully that can translate into wins and get ourselves some momentum as we move through the second half of the year.
“We’ve been really fast the last three or four races, so the confidence in the entire team and everyone around me has been on an upward trend. Mid-Ohio definitely hurt that a little bit and we’re all upset, but I think that’s just going to motivate us to do better.”
Ben Maier, driver, No. 75 Silver Hare Racing/Gel Blaster Chevrolet Camaro:
“I’ve never been to Road America, so this weekend should be a good, new experience. Everyone says the track is really good, it’s a high-speed track and it’s fun, so I’m excited about it. Connor’s had a lot of experience there and he’s had success, so I’ll be talking to him about how to drive it. When I look at the track map, there are some long straightaways and a few areas that are pretty technical.
“It would be good to redeem myself and finish farther up in the top-10. I was running well at Mid-Ohio until I got caught up in that wreck, so I want to finish what I started this weekend and get back into the top-10 where I was running.
“I learn a little bit more and more each race about the handling of the TA2 car. At the beginning, it was getting used to the power, and some major stuff like does it push or is it loose. Now, I’m getting more comfortable and making tiny little changes to get the car perfect for me. I’m pretty used to the car, now, but there are still little bits that I can gain every weekend from it. And just learning the tracks is also something I need to do since I haven’t been to most of them.
“I’d eventually like to finish on the podium, that would be cool. Everyone wants to win, and I want to win, but I think a reasonable goal would be podium this year, and then next year I’ll fight for wins and championships. But I feel like I can get on the podium this year.”
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.