Cody Ware is ready for a new challenge as the 20-year-old third-generation driver will be competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Zippo 200 at The Glen Saturday at the famed Watkins Glen International road course.
The son of former NASCAR Camping World Truck driver and now NASCAR car owner Rick Ware made a surprise visit to the OCM BOCES McEvoy Center Wednesday afternoon to visit with special education kids attending summer sessions there. He was joined by Ithaca native Clint Smith, a pit crew gasman in all three top NASCAR series, for a 45-minute question and answer session that yielded a lot of great questions from the kids.
“I’ve known Clint for the past couple of years,” Ware said. “He’s been part of one of the pit crews I’ve worked with. I was visiting a buddy in New York City and I got a text from Clint saying why don’t you come hang out and talk to some kids today. I said why not! Let’s make it happen.
“One important thing I want to use with my ability to be a role model,” he added. “I may not be as big time as someone like Kyle Busch, but I still have a public presence and I think I can make a difference in the world. My father actually has Tourette’s so I am familiar with some disabilities so I understand. I want to help out anyway I can whether that’s going into schools and speaking with the kids or sharing my faith. I want to make a positive impact the best way I can.”
Ware has been a part-time driver in the Xfinity series since 2014 and he has a career-best 15th-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. His father’s team also runs a few Camping World Truck Series events as well.
“I’ve been racing on and off in the series, along with the trucks,” Ware said. “Me and my dad do run a small team. It pays the bills and it’s fun to share in the passion with my dad.”
Despite his young age, Ware had already made a name for himself as a sports car driver with a win at Watkins Glen in the sports car ranks.
“When I was 18 years old, I ran a lot of the GT3 Porsche Cup and Lamborghini Trofeo in the ISMA Series. I have done a lot a sports car racing. This is my first trip to Watkins Glen in a stock car. We’ll be trying to make that transition over to the stock car and have some success.
“Seeing the in-car cameras from all the guys who tested the Sprint Cup cars on the new surface shows that the track is a lot smoother and faster,” he continued. “You have to get up on it. It will be a tough transition because it is so much faster, but we’ll take our time to get up to speed and not try to grab it all at once.”
It must be difficult being a part-time driver going up against the series regulars and those Sprint Cup drivers who join these races when both series are running at the same track. The Sprint Cup cars are at Watkins Glen for the Cheez-It 355 Sunday.
“It’s a lot easier for me on the road courses since I have that background,” Ware said. “It is tough on the oval tracks on a weekly basis where I don’t get the seat time and hone my skills regularly. It takes time to shake to rust off. On one hand it is a struggle, but, on the other hand, I’m just thankful to be out there at all doing it. It’s better than doing no racing.”
Ware’s father, cut his teeth in the SCCA Production classes and moved into the Trans-Am Series with his dad.
“In 1989 or 90, dad moved to North Carolina and started a stock car team,” Ware explained. “He debuted in the Craftsman Truck Series as an owner/driver. I’ve pretty much been involved in racing since day one.
“I really wish that I had a chance to race with my dad,” he continued. “He got in a wreck at Fontana in 2000. He broke his neck which ended his driving career, but he did walk away without any permanent injuries. It is still cool to have my father be my team owner so we can race and share in the business together. It brings the family together which includes my mother and brother. We are a lot closer because of it.”
Ware will be driving an unsponsored car this weekend as he teams up with the Jeff Spraker Enterprises Racing Team from Schenectady. The car will be black with the number 25 on the side and roof.
“We didn’t have time to build a car for Watkins Glen, but there are three straight road course races and we will have a car for the back-end of the deal,” Ware said. “Jeff has run modifieds and did compete in some Busch North races at The Glen. He is a part-time Xfinity owner as well.”
The Zippo 200 at The Glen will air Saturday at 2 p.m. on CNBC (TWC channel 24).