Connor Zilisch: F1 Makes NASCAR Look Like 'the County Fair, almost'

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Zilisch: NASCAR Needs To Upgrade Fan ExperienceSean Gardner - Getty Images

Connor Zilisch had his sights set on a Formula 1 career when he was growing up, and after attending one of the international events, the 17-year-old believes NASCAR should upgrade its fan experience.

“I went to a F1 race in 2020, and that made us (NASCAR) look like we were going to the county fair, almost,” Zilisch says. “It was crazy how much money goes into every event in F1. I don’t think it’s really possible to do that for us just because … NASCAR isn’t F1. But a lot of the hospitality stuff that they do, making it truly a fan experience, giving the people that are willing to spend that kind of money to come to the races and have that kind of experience, giving them somewhere to go would definitely be helpful.

“I don’t know the logistics of it all. I don’t know if it’d be possible for us to do—and I doubt it would—but that was definitely an eye-opening experience for me.”

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Connor Zilisch finished fourth in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 23.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old Zilisch won the Rolex 24 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 class. He made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Circuit of The Americas by earning the pole and producing a fourth-place finish. He will also compete in ARCA this season as well as the CARS Tour, and Trans Am.


Zilisch will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Watkins Glen in September driving a JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The Trackhouse Racing development driver began competing in karts at age 5 and raced karts in Europe. When the teenager realized racing in F1 wasn’t possible he turned to Late Model cars in 2022.

“I wasn’t the biggest NASCAR fan growing up,” admits Zilisch, who grew up in the Mooresville, N.C., area north of Charlotte. “I kind of grew up watching Formula 1, and all of the big sports car races. I never was too big of a NASCAR fan until I met Kevin (Harvick) and kind of got a more in-depth sense of the NASCAR community and what it’s like on this side of things in the racing world.”

Dilisch points to NASCAR’s popularity as the thing that makes it stand out from other motorsports in North America.

“Not everybody knows about IndyCar. Not everybody knows what IMSA is,” says Dilisch, who attends school online. “I feel like it’s (NASCAR) the biggest form of motorsports in North America. I feel like that’s what makes it appealing to me.”