In 2021, Connor Zilisch hopped into a Spec Miata and launched his racing career. Three seasons later, Zilisch has become a 17-year-old stock car prospect signed to a development deal with Trackhouse Racing.
It is a meteoric and unique rise. 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 c
lass at the SCCA Nationals, win a scholarship at the MX-5 Cup Shootout, and win pole in his first-ever 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.
That impressive second year in stock cars is what led to the deal with Trackhouse, a Cup Series team that plans to let Zilisch run in all of ARCA, CARS late models, Trans-Am, IMSA, and the second and third-tier NASCAR Xfinity Series and Truck Series over the next two seasons. Team owner Justin Marks, who owns a North Carolina kart track where Zilisch both raced before he got into cars and ran in a Trans-Am race Zilisch won last year, has developed a versatile plan to prepare his latest signing for a career in stock cars.
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.
“This is a dream come true,” Zilisch said in a press release.