Daytona Beach, Fla. (4 January 2019) – Second generation driver Ben Waddell will contest the opening round of the 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge series this weekend, joining Wyatt Schwab behind the wheel of the No. 74 Forty7 Motorsports/ Stoner Car Care Norma LMP3 entry 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
The 23-year-old Colorado native joins the 18-year-old Schwab racing with the team that made an impression right of the box last season, finishing second in the title chase in their first year of IMSA competition.
Former racer Garrett Kletjian leads the young three-car team that includes the No. 74 shared by Waddell and Schwab, the No. 47 piloted by Austin McCusker and Peruvian Rodrigo Pflucker, and the No. 55 of brothers Timo and Nikko Reger. Most of the drivers began their careers racing together in Skip Barber, and Waddell appreciates the opportunity to race against them on the track while sharing information in the garage.
“It’s all a new experience,” said Waddell, “and it’s great to be here with such a young, exciting team. All they want to do is win, and with a bunch of young drivers, it’s great competition between us and pushes us to be better. And run to with last year’s series runner up, Austin McCusker, really helps me. Most of us raced together in Skip Barber when we first started, so for all of us to be together is great. I’m pleased with where I am to start the season, and grateful to my personal sponsor, Stoner Car Care. They’ve been with me since I started racing so to be able to represent them in the IMSA series is wonderful.”
Job One for Waddell and Schwab, however, will be managing the rather disparate differences in height between the pair sharing the wheel of the No. 74.
“I am 6’1” while he’s about 5’3” and I’m about double his weight, but we make it work!” said Waddell.
Graduating from high school in 2014, Waddell began his racing car the following year, racing in the Skip Barber Championship. He won the inaugural Lucas Oil School of Racing series in 2016, made the jump to the US F4 Championship the following season, and competed in three Prototype Challenge events last year.
Coming from a racing lineage, Waddell grew up at racetracks across America with his father Barry, a successful road racer turned racing instructor and spotter. According to the younger Waddell, the duo has achieved a perfect balance of help when needed while still keeping the familial dynamic intact.
“My dad is a professional driver coach, so to have him in my corner is huge,” said Waddel. “He always has something to say, but we have a comfort level and that really helps as I move to a series with so much more visibility, so many more fans and TV cameras. He’s able to keep me focused and gives me great tips, but he also lets me make my own way. He takes a step back during the day and is there to help me debrief in the evening. It works perfectly.”
Waddell hopes to contest the entire season but is still working toward the full-season budget. Consistency is the key, he believes, to full-season success.
“To be in the top five and earn some podiums consistently is the goal if I’m able to do the entire season. This is only my third season racing so to compete with some of the veterans in the series would be a good baseline ahead of next season.”
He will once again balance racing and school, as Waddell continues to work toward a degree in Business at Front Range Community College near his Denver home.
“I think that will help me, especially as I work with sponsors. I have a better understanding of what helps them and how they view the world. That’s a huge part of racing now and it’s been a tremendous help.”
The season gets underway on Saturday, with the three-hour Scouts of America Race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge taking the green flag at 12:15 p.m. Eastern.