Spec Miata Hot Shoe Connor Zilisch Makes News With NASCAR Ride

Though just 17-years old, Connor Zilisch could almost be considered a grizzled motorsports veteran. He’s been an SCCA® member since 2015, and really made waves at the 2021 SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, where he finished the Spec Miata race third out of 72 drivers. The only two to beat him to the checkered flag that year were Spec Miata powerhouses Preston Pardus and Nicholas Bruni – not bad company to be in. That Runoffs finish earned Zilisch an invite to the Mazda MX-5 Shootout, and from there, things have only gotten better – and now his accomplishments are getting national attention.

“It is a meteoric and unique rise,” Fred Smith wrote in a recent article for Road & Track. “Zilisch had been in karts for a decade by the time he jumped in a Miata at 14 years old. Over the year, he would go on to finish third in the highly competitive Spec Miata class at the SCCA Nationals, win a scholarship at the MX-5 Cup Shootout, and win pole in his first-ever [SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned] Trans Am TA2 race. In 2022, that led him to runs in Trans Am TA2, local late model racing at Hickory Motor Speedway, and Mazda MX-5 Cup. He won twice in the stock car-style late model and finished second in the MX-5 Cup championship, losing that title by just one position.”

“By last season, Zilisch was already clearly on a path away from sports cars and toward stock cars. He won a race and scored two more third-place finishes in five CARS Pro Late Model races, scored two top tens in six CARS Late Model Stock Car events, and finished second in his lone ARCA start at Watkins Glen.”

This attention by Road & Track was spawned by big news for the SCCA Central Carolinas Region member, as it was recently announced that he’d been signed to a multi-year driver agreement with Trackhouse Racing in a developmental program that will include select CARS Tour, ARCA, Trans Am, and IMSA races, in addition to NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series events in 2024 and 2025.

“This is a dream come true,” Zilisch said in an announcement put out by Trackhouse. “I can't thank Justin [Marks] and everyone at Trackhouse Racing enough for giving me this opportunity. It has been a pleasure to spend the last two years racing with Chevrolet and I am thrilled to extend that relationship. I have a lot to learn, but I don’t think there is a better place for me to learn than with Trackhouse Racing.”

But, as Road & Track adds, that’s not all Zilisch will be doing this year: “In addition to all of those responsibilities, Zilisch is also making his 24 Hours of Daytona debut later this month. He will run in an LMP2 car for Era Motorsports, joining experienced LMP2 veteran Ryan Dalziel and Indy NXT champion Christian Rasmussen for at least one round of the IMSA endurance cup.”

Then in July, Zilisch will turn 18.

Photo courtesy Chris Clark / Trans Am