Ben Waddell Set for IMSA Debut at Sebring

Ben Waddell Set for IMSA Debut at Sebring

12.03.2018: Teams with Hanratty at ESM for Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda Ben Waddell will make his IMSA Prototype

Teams with Hanratty at ESM for Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda

 
Ben Waddell will make his IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda debut next weekend at Sebring International Raceway as he teams with Max Hanratty to pilot the No. 3 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 in the 1 hour, 45-minute enduro. 




The race (Friday, March 16 9:10 AM ET streaming live at imsa.tv)  marks the second round of the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda championship season and will see the young American duo team up for the first time as a driver pairing.



Facilitating the step up for Waddell is the continued support of his partners, as he has long carried the Invisible Glass/Stoner Car Care (http://www.stonercarcare.com) colors, and he is pleased to have the brand on board as he makes this move up the racing ladder.


“The support from Stoner Car Care (parent company of Invisible Glass) has been amazing,” said Waddell. “It is awesome that they are a part of this move up to IMSA with me. Invisible Glass has a great presence in IMSA with their Continental Tire Challenge program and I’m proud to represent them now in Prototype Challenge.”



Waddell will also carry support from Bell Helmets as well as USWAG (uswag.us), the leader in custom socks that was founded in early 2015 by late Indy Car driver Justin Wilson and Michael Waddell.  Ben Waddell is making his first-ever Prototype Challenge race start with the Sebring outing.  



The young American raced with success in the F4 US Championship ranks in 2017 following his winning run in the 2016 Lucas Oil Racing Series that followed two seasons in Skip Barber Racing School competition.



For Waddell, the opportunity is a big one  as he looks to follow in his father’s footsteps in the sport. The senior Waddell, Barry, took to the overall podium in the 1997 Sebring 12 Hour, and is still active in the sport as a spotter, mentor, and driver coach.



“For me this is the biggest race I’ve done in my career, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Waddell, who has made the most of the technology available to him, with extensive training on simulators to prepare.



“I’m really excited to be racing as part of the IMSA 12 Hour at Sebring-it is a big event with a great atmosphere.There are a lot of really strong drivers in the Prototype Challenge field so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes and how we stack up. I’ve known Max (Hanratty) for a long time, so it was a great fit when this opportunity came up.”



Both racers come from open wheel backgrounds. Hanratty moved to the IMSA Lites platform in 2016 before gaining experience on board the V8-powered Ligier machine in ELMS competition in 2017, while also contesting the Pro Mazda Championship. The American racer opened the 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge season with a run to 4th place at Daytona and will look to build on that momentum with another strong result in Sebring as Waddell joins the effort.



“I’m looking forward to racing with Ben (Waddell)-we are a couple of young guys and have known each other for a while so it should be a good pairing,” said Hanratty. “Prototype Challenge is a good natural step for drivers to build and try to work up to get into IMSA WeatherTech. The field is a great mix of young drivers and more experienced racers and ESM is a great team to race for.”



“We are really happy to have Max continue his career development with us at ESM and build on his strong result at Daytona,” said Scott Sharp. “Ben has a great background in open wheel racing and he should be able to make this transition into endurance racing pretty smoothly. We are excited to have two young hungry drivers in these two and hopefully they can get off to a great start at Sebring.”



While the team and car will be all new for Waddell, he’ll have a good guide in teammate Hanratty, who has experience with both.



“It is great to race for ESM-it is a great environment,” said Hanratty. “I’ve known Scott (Sharp) for a while and he has been kind of a mentor for me and my career, and his team does things right. You can see the pride everyone takes in their work and I have a lot of confidence in their cars.  They have all the resources you need to be competitive and win races.”



Waddell, who lives just outside of Denver, Colorado, continues to balance his racing with his studies as he works on his marketing and communications degree.  The Prototype Challenge format has evolved for 2018 as the two-class field takes on an endurance format, something that Waddell is relishing.



“Coming from open wheel competition, this will be a change for me to have a roof and to do driver changes and to race this long,” said Waddell. “Sebring is a tricky place—not just the bumps, but also how much the temperature changes and how the car reacts to the track. It can be completely different from session to session.



 But it is important to just get laps in and get comfortable. I’ve got my seat fitting done and  now I’m just really excited to be a part of such a big event and hopefully we can score a podium.”



The race is also an opportunity for Hanratty to continue to network as he develops his program with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to help create a better fan experience at the race events.



“My company (Mobile Engagement Solutions) partnered with Aruba Networks (a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company) and HPE Pointnext (consulting services) using its intelligent venue solutions to create a digital experience for race fans,” said Hanratty.



 “Using Aruba Networks location based services, we are able to connect racing fans through turn-by-turn navigation to amenities and points of interest. There is also information on the teams and drivers, live timing, media, promotions, sponsors, and venue related information. Using beacon technology, we are able to send location-aware push-notifications to the users with exclusive content and promotions.”



The promotion of the program has Hanratty racking up the miles to support its growth.   “We were just currently in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, which I believe is the largest tech conference in Europe with more than 100,000 attendees,” said Hanratty.




“We had the #12 LMP3 car I drive for EuroInternational in ELMS on the show room floor to create some hype and promote our projects with intelligent venues and mobile engagement so it was a big success and hopefully we can continue to build on that.”



The Sebring event will kick off with practice on Wednesday, March 14, with the grid set to be determined on Thursday at 12:20 PM (imsa.tv coverage). The race will go green at 9:15 AM on Friday to kick off the 1 hour, 45 minute event. Follow @imsa and @patronesm for updates.




   


Sunday Group Management-also photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/ben-wadell-imsa-debut-sebring---173568.html

12.03.2018 / MaP

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