Ben Keating, owner of Tomball, Texas-based Dodge Viper dealership Viper Exchange, currently races a GT3 spec Viper in IMSA’s GT Daytona class. Few people love the Viper as much as Keating, but unfortunately, he won’t be behind the wheel of one in IMSA next year.
Dodge ended its factory-backed Viper racing program three years ago after winning the 2013 American Le Mans Series championship. With no factory support, Keating’s been paying out of his own pocket to field the Viper in GTD. His racecar was designed and built by well-known engineering firm Riley Technologies, who received little help from Dodge, and he had to pay his own IMSA Manufacturer’s entry fee.
For Keating, racing the Viper is becoming a huge expense. In a recent interview with The Drive, he said he intends to keep racing, but will switch to a different manufacturer for the 2017 IMSA season. The businessman also owns BMW, Chevrolet, Ford and Mazda dealerships, just to name a few, so his options are open.
Considering the Viper’s continued competitiveness in GTD, it’ll be sad to see it go. Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen won the GTD class in their Viper at Road America Sunday and also won at Belle Isle in Detroit in June. The pairing is also third in the GTD driver’s standings with three races to go in the season.
Luckily Keating can still get his Viper fix elsewhere. He continues to keep selling the V10 sportscars, and with the Viper projected to be even more of a collectible going forward, we think business will be good.