Ben Keating is an American businessman, racing team owner and racing enthusiast who currently competes in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. He started racing in 2006 for his own team Viper Exchange Racing, named after his company Viper Exchange, specialized for Dodge Viper cars.
Keating scored his greatest results driving a Viper. Early in a career, he scored five different minor national titles in a Viper. In 2011, he debuted in two major competitions, both the American Le Mans Series and Grand American Rolex Series, staying in the sports car racing until today.
The highlight of his career was GTD class victory at 2015 Daytona 24 Hours in Riley Motorsports' SRT Viper GT3R. In 2016, he added a victory at Petit Le Mans on his account, finishing second in the championship standings. In 2017, Keating won the Sebring 12 Hours in the GTD class with Riley Motorsports' Mercedes-AMG GT3. At 24 hours of Le Mans, he participated three times so far, but without notable results.
Successful Texas businessman and Viper specialist
Ben Keating was born on August 18, 1971, in Tomball, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1994, starting to work in sales immediately after that. Keating bought his first car dealership in 2002.
Through the years, his business expanded to ten dealerships throughout Texas, in addition to The Viper Exchange, a Dodge Viper specialty dealership with the largest volume of Dodge Viper sales in the world.
Five championship titles driving a Viper
In 2006, he received a weekend track driving course as a Christmas present from his wife. After that, he started a racing career in the Viper Racing League (VRL). In the following seasons, he became the VRL National Champion in 2008 and North American Road Racing Association (NARRA) GT champion in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010, he also debuted in the NARRA-sponsored Dodge Viper Cup. In the first season, he finished in the second place, winning two races.In the 2011 Viper Cup, he won four times and secured another championship title. In 2012, he defended Viper Cup title with six wins.
2011 – Rolex Series and ALMS debut
In 2011, Keating debuted in two major American sports car racing competitions, the Grand American Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series. In January 2011, he participated for the first time at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, racing in the #66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for The Racer's Group (TRG). His co-drivers were Dominik Farnbacher, Tim George Jr. and Lucas Luhr. They were 27th overall and 13th in GT class.
Ten different co-drivers in 2012
In 2012, Keating participated in three races of the North American Endurance Championship, which was a part of the Rolex Sports Car Series, consisting of three races: the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Six Hours of The Glen and the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He was driving the #66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for TRG in all three races, sharing a car with six different co-drivers (Dominik Farnbacher, Patrick Pilet, Allan Simonsen, Damien Faulkner, Bryan Sellers and Jorg Bergmeister). At Daytona, he had a double duty, also taking a shift in TRG's #68 Porsche. He shared that car with four drivers, so we can say that he had ten different co-drivers during 2012 season.
Full season in the 2013 American Le Mans Series
For the rest of the season, Keating joined TRG to drive the #66 Porsche full season in the GTC class of the American Le Mans Series. Damien Faulkner was his full-time co-driver. At Sebring 12 Hours, Craig Stanton was the third driver, they didn't finish the race. The first victory came in Keating's Texas at the Circuit of the Americas. Another victory followed at Virginia International Raceway, so Keating finished 8th in the final standings.
Back to the cockpit of Viper in 2014
For the 2014 sports car racing season, ALMS and Rolex Series merged into the IMSA United Sports Car Championship. Keating entered the competition with Riley Motorsports, returning to the cockpit of Viper. He was driving the #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R with Jeroen Bleekemolen as the full-time teammate. Jeroen's brother Sebastiaan joined them in three endurance races.
Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen scored two GTD class victories at Mosport and Circuit of the Americas. Keating finished 14th in the final standings.
Class victory at 2015 Daytona 24 Hours
Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen were partners again in the #33 Viper in the 2015 IMSA season, but the greatest result for Keating came with the #93 Viper at Daytona 24 Hours. Having a double duty in both cars, Keating scored his first 24-hour race victory. His teammates in the #93 car were Dominik Farnbacher, Al Carter and Kuno Wittmer.
Later in the season, Keating has won two more races with Bleekemolen, at Road America and COTA, to finish 6th in the final standings of the GTD class.
Le Mans 24h debut in 2015
In June 2015, Keating debuted at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was driving the #53 SRT Viper GTS-R for Riley Motorsports-TI Auto. His partners were Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Miller. They retired after 304 laps.
A year later, Keating returned to Le Mans as a member of Murphy Prototypes team, sharing an Oreca 03R LMP2 prototype with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Goossens. They finished 15th in the LMP2 class.
IMSA Championship runner-up in 2016
In 2016, Keating achieved his career-best result in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. He and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished as the championship runner-ups in the GTD class, after winning three times in the #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R.
They win at Belle Isle and Road America, ending a season with a victory at Petit Le Mans. Keating again had a double program at Daytona 24 Hours, driving two cars for Riley Motorsports.
Victory at Sebring 12 Hours in 2017
For the 2017 season, Keating stayed with Riley Motorsports in the IMSA Championship, but the team switched to Mercedes-AMG GT3. After finishing third in the GTD class at Daytona 24 Hours, Keating reached a top podium spot at another great American race – the Sebring 12 Hours. He won the race together with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher in the #33 Mercedes. Later in the season, he won at Austin and finished fifth in final standings of GTD class.
At 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, Keating participated in the Riley-Gibson LMP2 prototype under the banner of his own team Keating Motorsport. His teammates were Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ricky Taylor, they finished 20th in the LMP2 class.
Podium at 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours
In the 2018 IMSA Championship season, Keating and Bleekemolen stayed together in the #33 Mercedes, scoring their first win in the seventh round at Mosport. At Le Mans 24 Hours, Keating Motorsport was running the #85 Ferrari 488 GTE, finishing third in GTE Am class. Keating's co-drivers were Luca Stolz and Jeroen Bleekemolen.