Ben Waddell will make his IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda debut this weekend at Sebring 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 marks the second round of the IPC season and will see the young American duo team up for the first time as a driver pairing.
The young American raced with success in the F4 US Championship ranks last year after 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.
Barry Waddell 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.
“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 for a long time, so it was a great fit when this opportunity came up.”
Both drivers 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 IPC 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.
“We are really happy to have Max continue his career development with us at ESM and build on his strong result at Daytona,” said team owner 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.”
Waddell, who lives just outside of Denver, 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.”