Silver Hare Eyes COTA for Season’s Best Trans Am Outing
November 2, 2022
Maurice Hull, Connor Zilisch Determined To Springboard into 2023 on a High Note
HIGH POINT, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2022) – The way Silver Hare Racing’s Maurice Hull and Connor Zilisch see it, the drive for the 2023 TA2-class championship in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli begins with Sunday’s 2022 season finale at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
Competitors from most every racing discipline have long spoken of the many positive effects a successful season finale can have on the year that follows – not to mention the offseason leading up to it. That’s why Hull, driver of the No. 57 Waukegan Quarter Horses/Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro, and Zilisch, driver of the No. 5 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro, are laser focused on bringing home the top prize in Sunday’s 30-lap, 75-minute race around the 3.426-mile, 20-turn COTA layout.
Hull, the three-time TA2 Masters champion who with his wife Laura co-owns Silver Hare Racing, returns to the cockpit for the seventh time this season and his fourth COTA start since 2018. He took top Masters honors with his 13th-place finish in the 2020 race, the same day two-time series champion and current points leader Rafa Matos drove the No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Camaro to the overall win. Hull finished 14th in the 2019 race at COTA and 21st last year. Hull arrives at COTA fresh off his third Masters victory of the season four weekends ago at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, the first two coming at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in March, and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, in July.
Meanwhile, the 16-year-old Zilisch will be making his 13th career TA2 start and first COTA, but it comes at a track where he’s already been victorious this season. During the February SCCA Super Tour doubleheader weekend at COTA, Zilisch won Saturday’s Spec Miata race and finished third in the Sunday race after being slowed by mechanical issues. Since his last TA2 outing was cut short by an early incident at VIR, the versatile young racer added the title of KA 100 Grand National Champion to his rapidly growing resume during a four-day karting event in mid-October at his hometown GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina. Zilisch also competed fulltime this season in the prestigious Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors after winning four of the last six races on the calendar, including sweeping both races of the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Road America the same weekend he qualified and finished sixth there in his Silver Hare Racing Camaro on the iconic 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit.
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.
“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, which we’re doing in collaboration with Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
“It started when they brought him to us for testing at VIR last year, and we’ve been 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.”
Maurice Hull, owner/driver, No. 57 Waukegan Quarter Horses/Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro:
“I’m feeling good about COTA. I really enjoy the racetrack. As a team, we’ve really stepped up this last part of the season and I’m really proud of the guys for all the hard work. They’ve done an extraordinarily good job with the cars. They’re working well, great longevity, good setups. I’m tickled with what’s coming out of the shop. We’re going to COTA with two great cars – from a performance standpoint, we’re as fast as we’ve ever been, so we’ll be ready for them, for sure. There is a huge number of entries this year, and a lot of those are drivers we haven’t raced against and we’re not as familiar with each other as with the guys we race fulltime, so a lot of the weekend is going to be about survival. With that much traffic, and with how technical the track is, the key is going to be getting through it – finishing the race. We’ve got the best equipment on the racetrack. We’ve got the best personnel. I feel very confident that we can head into COTA with a winning attitude and take home the trophy.
“The passing zones at COTA are mostly in the braking zones, and that can create havoc sometimes when people overdrive their cars. The track has a lot of grip and a lot of obstacles in the form of turtles and curbing, so it’s a track where you’ve got to be smart. It was built for Formula One with a lot of very tight corners, a couple of long straightaways, some big sweepers – it’s got it all, but it’s been made for cars that have a huge amount of grip. Exciting is a good word to describe what it’s like to race our TA2 cars around there. It’s very challenging, and I think talent rises on that track. It doesn’t tolerate mistakes. It’s a fun track. I enjoy the track, but you need to develop a rhythm, and it’s difficult to develop on that track, that’s why they built it the way they did. It was intended to be one of the most challenging road courses in the country and I think they did a fine job.
“It’s been a great learning experience for Connor this year and we’re very proud of him. He has such good car control and he’s very fast and he’s really good with the technique and the technical aspects. He’s shown he’s a winner in all the other forms of racing he’s taken part in, and I think this one is the most challenging and it’s just a matter of time before he wins with us. The mental part of racing is probably the most difficult if you’re blessed with the God-given talent like he is. That’s the learning curve for really, really successful, fast racecar drivers – the mental part – and we’re seeing Connor scale that mountain, attacking the most difficult part of racing. Like I said, I’m proud of him. I’m proud of our association with him, and I’m proud of how hard he’s working. We’re going to be hugely successful in the future, and we’re looking to start that at COTA this weekend. Connor’s already won there this year. Once he gets some results behind him here in Trans Am, the sky’s the limit. He’s certainly capable of beating everybody out there.”
Connor Zilisch, driver, No. 5 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Chevrolet Camaro:
“COTA is one track I’m proud to say I’ve been to this year, and it was a successful weekend that included setting the Spec Miata track record, winning one race and finishing on the podium in the other. It was a lot of fun and I like the track a lot. Obviously F1 goes there, so it’s FIA rated and it has a ton of runoff room. In a Miata, there’s probably a bit too much room, but I think going there with the TA2 car and quite a bit more horsepower is going to be lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it a lot. That track, just the flow of it, it’s one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted to go there in a higher horsepower car, so my wishes will be fulfilled this weekend.
“It’s been rough these last three races, but nothing that’s been too far out of my control, which makes me feel better about it just knowing that if I do my part, we’ll be able get a good finish. I just need to keep my head screwed on straight and work with the team to get the car running right so we’ll have a good piece for the race. The last two or three races, we’ve been fast, just unfortunate circumstances have taken us out. Looking forward to getting to COTA and seeing everybody again and getting back on track.
“We have these layoffs throughout the season in Trans Am, but I’ve been in a lot of other things during the time in-between. I got in the go-kart for the first time in five months a couple of weeks ago and it was a lot of fun – won the KA 100 Grand National Championship and a shootout race, so I walked away with some good prize money. I always enjoy doing those races. There’s a lot of competition, and it’s great to go back and see my old friends again. The racing is so tight, and there’s a lot of racecraft – just a lot of fun, in general. Karting definitely has its benefits no matter what else you’re out there racing, getting those muscles tuned in, those reactions. Nothing happens quicker than in a go-kart, just ask anybody.
“COTA is a very special track. I’d say a lot of the gains you’ll find there are made in the elevation braking zones. Turn one, you’ve got a lot of elevation and you can brake a lot deeper than you think you can. That’s one of the corners where you can really make up a lot of time on entry. Really, just everywhere, line proximity is super important. I’ve been on the Chevy simulator working on that with Josh Wise and everyone in his program, finding where I can make time running a shallower line, or where it’s better to open up the corner and carry that speed.
“Overall this season, I think we’ve made a lot of gains, personally and as a team working together, our chemistry. We’ve all grown together and we’re going to continue to grow together, too. It’s been a lot of fun just working with everyone and honing my driving skills in this series. Maurice and I get along so well. He’s been picking it up at every track that we go to, by a significant amount at every track we go to, so he’s been working his tail off. I know how much he wants to be faster and I’ve been trying to give him all the tools to try and gain that speed. It’s just been fun working with everyone on the team, and I feel fortunate to work with Silver Hare and to have this opportunity. I’m just trying to make the most of it and learn from everything that I can. And next year we’ll be looking to run for a championship with all the tools and everything we’ve been able to learn this year. I really love everyone on the team. We all get along really well and it just makes for a great atmosphere. I always look forward to coming to these races.”
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.