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The race was looking to be a good one with Ben Keating running fast laps before being shunted by the No. 18 prototype car. It was a disappointing accident ...
Ben Keating's No. 66 car pulls past another car during the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. After winning two straight Viper Cups, Keating is competing on a new circuit this year.
Originally published on Thursday, February 7, 2013
Two weeks ago, Crossroads car dealership owner and racer Ben Keating competed on the famous Daytona International Speedway track during the annual Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Keating's team completed 622 laps, putting them in 31st place.
Keating talked about the experience of racing at one of the most famous racetracks in the world and some of the new, exciting challenges awaiting him in the upcoming racing season.
Ben Keating has raced on the Viper Cup series for the last two years, winning it both times. He has moved to a new circuit this year.
Q: As the back-to-back champion racer in the SRT Viper Cup Series, how do you handle the pressure from that success and what will it take to win a third?
A: Actually, the success in the Viper Cup has reduced the pressure on me to perform. I have improved quite a bit over the past three years in Viper Cup competition. This year, I won first place in the first four races of the year. That gave me a pretty good points lead in the championship and made the rest of the year a little easier. I will not be competing in the Viper Cup in 2013. So, someone else will get the chance to have their name on the trophy. I wanted to continue to grow and develop at a higher level, and have decided to race the full season in the American Le Mans Series. This will be much higher competition and much higher profile, but I am going in with big expectations.
Q: You recently participated in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, what was the experience like driving at the famous Daytona Speedway?
A: There is nothing quite like Daytona. It takes a day or two to get used to running at 180 mph on the high banks. It is a fairly simple track layout, but that is one of the things that makes it so great. There are only a few corners where you can really make up a lot of time, but you can't take too much of a risk without big damage. It is a place where it is really easy to see the difference in driving technique between drivers. A guy like me can learn a ton at Daytona. And then somebody who is really fast and comfortable with the risk can get in trouble quickly.
Q: What are the different challenges involved with a 24-hour race?
A: A 24-hour race is totally different than a regular race. In fact, it is almost as much racing as the rest of the season put together. There is an old racing saying, "In order to finish first, you must first finish." This is more true in a 24-hour race than anywhere else. For the first 18 hours, you drive to protect the car from getting hurt and to stay on the lead lap as much as possible. Then in the final six hours, it is a sprint to the finish. The challenges are that there are so many factors that go into a clean race. A minor mistake in the pits can cost you the race. Another driver making a mistake can wreck you out and cost you the race. A simple penalty for speeding in pit lane can cost you the race. There are so many factors and everything has to go perfect to win. It is the hardest race to win, which is why it is so attractive to the best racers in the world.
Q: What is your best memory from the 24 Hours at Daytona?
A: My favorite Rolex 24 memory probably comes from the first time I ever ran the race. With only two hours left to go in the race, we had a real shot at winning. I had been up all night and didn't get any sleep. We were in third place and quickly catching the second place car. Plus, we knew the car in first place had clutch problems and we may be able to outlast them. The best memory was knowing that we were that close. It was so exciting that it is hard to describe. Our differential failed with 90 minutes to go in the race. Even still we got 13th in our class. I was hooked.
PHOTOS: Robert LEE/R.E. LEE PHOTOGRAPHY
Ben Keating talks with a pit crew member during the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Q: Wrecks are very common in the world of racing. Have you wrecked before? How bad or what happened?
A: I cannot confirm or deny any wrecks in the past . Yes! Of course I have wrecked. In fact, I have done it on national television. However, the race cars of today are so extremely safe that I feel safer on the track than I do on the road. On the track, things happen quickly. You have to be extremely focused. Driving is just a series of decisions and judgment calls. If you make a bad decision, then there are usually immediate consequences. And if you are too conservative, then you are typically slow. So, you have to push the limits a little. Sometimes a wreck can happen that is totally not your fault. I have had a few hard hits, but I have never even been close to injury. In fact, I've never seen anyone else get injured in a wreck racing in the same race I've been in. The cars are built for this with every safety precaution imaginable.
Q: How far do you hope to take your racing career?
A: That is a good question. I am certain that racing is never going to pay the bills. So, the easiest answer is to say that I will continue to race until it is not fun anymore. Right now, that is hard to imagine. I love racing. I have only been doing it for six years and I continue to get better every year. The purpose of racing in ALMS this year is to step up my game and see how I compete at the next level. I expect to be competitive, but I'd be crazy to expect to win the first four races of the season like I did in the SRT Viper Cup.
|Watch Ben and his teammate dominate this Sunday!|
Ben flies, you should really check out a race, this Sunday is the perfect time!!
Other cool links:
Ben wins Viper Cup video recap
Team TRG Racing
|Ben Keating, our owner, is heavily involved in auto racing. Ben drives in the Viper SRT Viper Cup and has been the National Champion for last 3 years. He also drives in the Grand Am Rolex Endurance Series, where you can see him in the 66 TRG Porsche GT3.|
A Letter From Ben
Howdy to all,
The racing season is back in full swing. I am excited to share with you the upcoming television schedule for my races. Please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone who might care to watch.
SRT Viper Cup - Spec racing, which means that every Viper on the track is the same car. I will be in the ViperExchange.com car #33.
Airs on the NBC Sports Network, which was previously known as the Versus channel. If you've watched Viper races before, it is most likely the same channel. However, the name of the channel has changed and the name of the show has changed. It is now officially the SRT Viper Cup shown on the NBC Sports Network.
Race 1 and 2 have already been shown. I actually missed them myself, because I had not seen a schedule yet. So, I will go ahead and let the cat out of the bag.... I won both of the first races.
· Race 3 - June 6 at 5:00pm EST (4pm Texas time) - Road America in Wisconsin
· Race 4 - June 20 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Road America
· Race 5 - August 15 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Virginia International Raceway
· Race 6 - August 22 at 3:00pm EST (2pm Texas time) - VIR
· Race 7 - September 19 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Monticello Motor Club, NY
· Race 8 - September 26 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Monticello
· Race 9 - November 14 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Watkins Glen, NY
· Race 10 - November 21 at 4:30pm EST (3:30 Texas time) - Watkins Glen
Grand Am - Two classes of cars. I will be racing in the GT class in a Porsche (#66). These races are longer endurance races where there are 2 or 3 drivers sharing one car and working together to try to win. This is the same series where I ran in the Rolex 24hrs at Daytona back in January.
These races are aired LIVE. They are aired on the SPEED Channel. This channel is extremely common and should be available on any cable or satellite network.
· July 1, Sunday - Rolex 6hrs at the Glen - 11am EST (10am Texas time) - Watkins Glen, NY - Co-drivers are Bryan Sellers and Damien Faulkner.
· July 27, Friday - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 4:30 EST (3:30 Texas Time) - 3hr race - Indianapolis, IN - Co-driver is Jorge Bergmeister.
SRT Viper Cup Re-air - At the end of the year, the NBC Sports Network will re-air all 10 of the Viper Cup races. They will run one race every Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm Eastern (3:30pm Texas time) for 10 weeks in a row. The races will run in order and start on Sunday October 21st.
The dates of the re-airs are: 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 12/23
10 races, 10 weeks in a row. All on Sunday afternoon, 4:30 EST/ 3:30 CST. NBC Sports Network.
Ben flies, If you want to check out a race, click here for his race schedule!
Other cool links:
Ben wins Viper Cup video recap
Team TRG Racing
Car Number: #33
Owner: Viper Exhange.com
Date of Birth: 08/18/1971
Hometown: Victoria, TX
Business: Franchised New Car Dealerships
Spouse/Partner/Significant Other/Immediate Family: Carter/12 and Kate/10
Interests: I love to work, vacation with family, and race. No time for anything else!
Career Highlights: I have won the National Championship in my class of the Viper Racing League for the past 3 years in a row. I love the Viper. I think the ACR is the best track car on the market right now, and I can boast the largest inventory of them in the country at ViperExchange.com