TeamSLR Trio Ready To Perform on Streets of Nashville
August 5, 2022
For the second year in a row, the chance to race on the downtown streets of Nashville, Tennessee, as an undercard to the NTT IndyCar Series’ Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has drawn a large field of TA2-class competitors from the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. TeamSLR is right in the thick of the action with its three-car lineup that is ready to tackle the 2.17-mile, 11-turn circuit for Saturday’s 46-lap, 75-minute race.
Second-year and fulltime TeamSLR driver Connor Mosack leads the way with William Sawalich joining him for the second race in a row and the third time this season, along with veteran racer Chris Liesfeld for the second time this year.
Mosack, the 23-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, and driver of the No. 28 High Point University/Interstate Foam & Supply/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear/Open Eyes/Franklin Road Apparel/Nacarato Truck Centers Ford Mustang, arrives in Music City third in the championship after his fourth-place finish in the previous round July 3 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It was his fifth top-six finish in the eight rounds contested this season, topped by his runner-up finish on his hometown Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. A year ago, Mosack posted a solid third-place finish in the inaugural Music City Grand Prix. Since Road America, he made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut July 9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. The past two weekends, Mosack posted a pair of top-six finishes in the ARCA Menards Series – sixth July 22 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and fifth July 29 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Joining the regular partner lineup on Mosack’s racecar this weekend is the global impact ministry Open Eyes, and a pair of partners based in the Nashville area – Franklin Road Apparel and Nacarato Truck Centers.
Open Eyes was co-founded by Frank Harrison, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Consolidated, and his son James Harrison, who passed away while serving in Kenya in 2010. James’ mission to serve others selflessly continues today through the Open Eyes Mobile Messengers program and its relief and development efforts around the world, including Ukraine and the Middle East. Mosack has firsthand knowledge of Open Eyes’ mission, as he volunteered with the group in Africa during the summer of 2017, visiting Rwanda and Uganda.
“The time I spent with Open Eyes in Africa was probably one of the most impactful moments of my life,” Mosack said. “Its name speaks for itself because it did open my eyes to how people live in other areas of the world and how having purpose, along with someone they can lean on for strength and support, can make a difference in their everyday lives.”
Franklin Road Apparel is a boutique men’s and women’s clothing store located in the heart of historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, and it’s partnering with TeamSLR and its drivers to generate additional exposure for the brand.
“We’re leveraging the opportunity to attrack local attention and drive traffic to our store by sponsoring the M1 Racecars driven by TeamSLR drivers Mosack, Salwalich and Liesfeld this weekend in Nashville,” said Ken Thwaits, owner and founder of Franklin Road Apparel, as well as owner of Trans Am’s Showtime Motorsports, which is also based in Franklin and for which he will drive one of its two TA2 entries this weekend.
Also partnering with TeamSLR and its drivers is Nacarato Truck Centers, based in nearby La Vergne, Tennessee. Nacarato Truck Centers is a group of authorized Volvo Truck, Tico Terminal Tractor, and used semi-truck dealerships and service centers serving the Tennessee, Virginia, Southern Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois and Georgia areas with 46 years in the trucking industry. It started with a single dealership in Nashville and has expanded to a group of 11 dealerships, each with the same moral principles upon which the company was founded. Three generations of the Nacarato family have kept this dream alive.
Sawalich is the 15-year-old racer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who drove the No. 8 Starkey-Audibel/TeamSLR/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro to a 13th-place finish at Road America. He posted an impressive ninth-place finish in the season’s opening round in March at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. When not competing in Trans Am, Sawalich has been an active competitor in Late Model stock cars, where he scored back-to-back victories last Friday and Saturday at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Sawalich is quickly becoming one of the hottest young racing talents in the country.
Liesfeld, the 47-year-old who calls Richmond, Virginia, home, is ready for his second race of the season behind the wheel of the No. 96 Fields Racing/TeamSLR/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro. Liesfeld owns and operates Fields Racing, which has competed in an array of racing disciplines over the years, including Stock Car Championship Series, Spec Miata, SCCA Pro, and Trans Am. A year ago, he finished 13th in his TeamSLR entry on the streets of Nashville.
Connor Mosack, No. 28 Open Eyes/Franklin Road Apparel/Nacarato Truck Centers/High Point University/Interstate Foam & Supply/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang:
You had your first taste of the Nashville street race last year and came away with a third-place finish. How do you feel about your prospects this weekend?
“I feel like we showed good speed there last year and I think we had the car to beat. I just gave it away on a restart. Hopefully, we’ll still be fast again this year and can get ourselves up front and not give it away this time.”
How was the overall experience for you last year?
“It was an awesome experience last year, probably the most fun race weekend of the year. Obviously, it was a super cool atmosphere being able to race on the streets in front of all those fans. It’s a race everybody looks forward to, for sure.”
How would you describe racing on that circuit?
“It was pretty bumpy and pretty slick and really tight. But it’s challenging, which makes it fun. If you overshoot a corner, you’re probably in the wall because there’s not a lot of runoff room. I like that, not being able to get away with mistakes. It makes it challenging for everybody, so whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will probably be the one who ends up on top.”
William Sawalich, No. 8 Starkey-Audibel/TeamSLR/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
This will be the first street race of your career. How have you been preparing for this race?
“I’ve watched in-car video and kind of got to know the track from that. Unfortunately, there’s nothing on iRacing with this track. Otherwise, I have zero street-race experience. I think one of the most important things will be getting up to speed fast and learning the track quickly, getting to know the bumps and everything like that, all the braking points. If I can do that, then we can move on to qualifying and try to qualify well. I think track position is going to be a big thing just because it’s so tight and narrow, but I think it could be a very good weekend.”
What do you think about the unique layout of the street course?
“I think it’s a really cool race setting, although I don’t think I’ll be paying attention to the scenery as I’m flying by it. But I think it’s super cool to look at it from outside the track and see how it makes its way around town.”
Chris Liesfeld, No. 96 Fields Racing/Team SLR/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
What are your overall thoughts as you head back to Nashville for the second time?
“Definitely excited to go back. I feel like having been there already, it should be beneficial competing against the drivers who haven’t been there. I’ll take everything I can get, so I’ll have that going for me, at least, against part of the field.”
Last year’s Nashville event was your first time in a racecar in several years, yet you emerged with a 13th-place finish in the 44-car field. Talk about that experience and what it means for this weekend.
“I’ve had some time in the car now with previous races and testing time, so I feel pretty comfortable looking to improve on my speed and my starting position and my finishing position this weekend. We finished 13th last year, which was a good finish for me considering it was my first race back in the car after a couple of years not racing. I started 28th and was able to work my way through the field, really just staying out of trouble. I thought that was a pretty good result. I was just trying to stay smart, understanding where I was as far as seat time. Racing is not always about the speed but just being smart, and I just made a plan to make it to the finish. I knew some wrecks were going to happen and some of the cars up front were going to have issues, and I just needed to work my way through the field.”
What did you think about the Nashville street circuit?
“It was a lot of fun. Definitely, racing through the streets and over a bridge is so unique and different. Going from high speed and just bringing the car down to such slow speeds and tight corners, it made for a challenging race. And dealing with the traffic and the walls and the tightness of it, it’s just different, it’s unique, compared to a place like Lime Rock or VIR, where there’s some grass and some more forgiveness there. There were a couple of times I was cringing a little bit where I was pushing a bit in one corner or another thinking I might rub against the wall, but I didn’t do it. I certainly wouldn’t have that cringe factor if there was some grass or a little bit of runoff.”
TeamSLR (Scott Lagasse Racing) competes fulltime in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli in a multifaceted effort that includes dedicated entries in the TA2 division, customer programs, driver coaching and car construction. Its history dates back to 1985 and covers a wide spectrum of motorsports, including NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, ARCA and ASA. TeamSLR is a family-owned organization run by Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr., The father-and-son duo have combined to win more than 100 races and seven championships across a variety of series and styles of racecars, from paved ovals to road courses to dirt tracks. For more information, please visit us online at www.TeamSLR.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on LinkedIn.