Connor Zilisch, the Next Big name in American Motorsports?

Connor Zilisch after winning 2nd TA2 race at the Detroit Grand Prix

Signing a development contract with Trackhouse Racing and winning the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in LMP2 in the same month, Connor Zilisch is making a name for himself. Could he be the next big name in American Motorsports?

It has been a huge month for Connor Zilisch. On the 11th of January, Trackhouse Racing announced they had signed Zilisch to a driver development deal involving rides in the CARS Tour, ARCA, Trans-Am, IMSA, and both Xfinity and Truck Series. He also had a career weekend in Daytona during the Rolex 24 weekend. A fifth-place finish in the MX-5 Cup Series and capped it all off with a victory in LMP2 for Era Motorsports. Could Connor Zilisch be the next young talent to come through American motorsports?

Zilisch’s Racing Background:

Born on July 21, 2006, Connor Zilisch began karting at the age of five. He, like many kart racers from the United States, would make the move to Europe to race. At the age of eleven, he would win the Mini Rok World Championship in Italy, and at 14 years old, win the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy. He joined the elite company of Charles Leclerc and Marta Garcia as winners of the trophy but also the first American to ever do so.

Moving to cars in 2021, he would race in the SCCA Spec Miata class. There he would reset track records at three tracks and many podiums. He was able to fund his 2022 season by winning the 110,000-dollar scholarship and the SCCA Rookie of the Year. In the MX-5 Cup, he won four races and finished second in the championship, earning him another Rookie of the Year title.

He also drove his first Trans-Am race, driving a TA2 Class Car. In his debut, he broke the Virginia International Raceway track record and led the race before he suffered a mechanical failure. Silver Hare Racing was impressed and Zilisch raced TA2 for them full time in 2022.

Stock Cars:

Connor would first strap into a stock car in June of 2022. He was driving for Dennis Setzer, a long-time veteran of NASCAR, in his Pro Late Model for a race at Orange County Speedway in the CARS Tour. Zilisch would earn the pole and lead all the laps, scoring his first victory in a stock car. He earned two more victories racing in Late Model Stocks that year.

In 2023, He would drive the #28 Chevy SS for Pinnacle Racing Group at Watkins Glen. He qualified second, losing to Cup Veteran Corey Lajoie. Leading thirty-four of the forty-two laps, he would finish second to eventual series champion Jesse Love, who bumped Zilisch in the final turn.

What’s next for Connor Zilisch?

While racing in Trans-Am, Zilisch became close with Justin Marks, co-owner of Trackhouse Racing and Trackhouse Motorplex, where Connor would kart. Marks and Trackhouse Racing announced they signed Zilisch to a developmental role, in several series. Those series are ARCA, CARS Tour, Craftsman Trucks, IMSA, and the Xfinity Series.

So far, I think Zilisch is doing well with his development, winning a Rolex in the 24 Hours of Daytona in his first attempt. He has shown his abilities in a stock car, both in ARCA and the CARS Tour. With the resources available through Trackhouse, I think we have yet to see what this young man can accomplish behind the wheel.

No schedule has been announced for Connor yet. He will probably race road courses in Xfinity and Trucks. As for what team will field the car, Trackhouse has some connections in both Xfinity and Truck garages. This year, Trackhouse has partnered with Kaulig Racing to field a car for three-time Supercars champion Shane Van Gisbergen, full-time in the Xfinity Series, as part of his acclimation to NASCAR racing. Zilisch will most likely drive one of the Kaulig Camaros in Xfinity. Trackhouse also has a close partnership with Niece Motorsports. Niece fielded a truck for Van Gisbergen at Indianapolis, so they will likely do the same for Zilisch.

Keep an eye out for Connor Zilisch in 2024. With his talent and backing from Trackhouse Racing, this young man’s career is only just starting to take off.