ANGOLA, Ind. — After a strong rookie season on the All Star Circuit of Champions tour with Sam McGhee Motorsports, Zeb Wise is striking out on his own this year.
Wise has joined forces with respected crew chief Wayne Priddy to form Wise-Priddy Racing, which will compete full time with the All Stars as Wise pursues his first series championship.
Wise and Priddy will serve as co-owners of the new operation, which will utilize XXX chassis and Rider Racing Engines. The team’s All Star debut will be April 9-10 at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park.
Wise hopes to be able to race in Pennsylvania in the weeks leading up to the All Star opener.
In regard to his new opportunity, however, Wise looked at it as a chance he couldn’t pass up.
“After I left the McGhee deal, I didn’t really have anything set in stone. I don’t want to say that I was a free agent, but I was definitely open to new things and to look around and see what opportunities were out there,” Wise told Sprint Car & Midget. “It wasn’t that I didn’t have any opportunities, but I kind of wanted to explore and try something different. I knew that running sprint cars on the All Star tour was definitely the way I wanted to go; I really like what the All Stars are doing and I think they have a really, really strong schedule.
“Wayne and my dad talking after the end of the All Star season last year, and my dad told him and I that, ‘We need to take a risk because it’s time to bet on ourselves,’ and this is the first step toward that goal.”
Wise will carry the No. 10 aboard his sprint cars this season, a reversal of the familiar No. 01 that he utilized while growing up in quarter midgets and micro sprints.
“When it came around to brainstorming … I didn’t want to have the (No.) 01 on the car, because this is Wayne’s deal too and it’s a fresh start,” Wise noted. “When we were tossing around numbers and he suggested the (No.) 10, because his favorite driver growing up was Dave Blaney, I realized, ‘Hey, it’s the 01, just backwards,’ and that was what we ended up going with.”
Priddy is a veteran of more than two decades in the sport, having worked with established racers, including Tony Bruce Jr., Josh Baughman and the late Jason Johnson.
Though he has had success as a crew chief, being both a mechanic and a co-owner this season will be a new and unique position for the 39-year-old.
“I’m humbled for the opportunity to team up with Zeb and his family in 2021. This is by far the most unique opportunity I’ve been presented and I decided it is time to bet on myself,” said Priddy. “I’m looking forward to, first and foremost, serving as the crew chief, but also the added involvement of being a co-owner. Zeb’s incredibly talented behind the wheel, so I’m confident we will find success both on and off the track.”
Wise is eager to return to the All Star tour after earning rookie-of-the-year honors and a third-place finish in points last season, with three top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 39 features.
The 18-year-old hopes to showcase some of the lessons he learned during his rookie year as he works to further his still-young career.
“Because of my age, I haven’t been on tour anywhere very long, but the All Stars were my favorite series that I’ve run with yet,” Wise noted. “I think they do a really good job with how they operate things and it’s a really good series for me to learn in. The World of Outlaws is everyone’s goal and where they want to be, but with this being our first year, the All Stars is a really good launching point for us.
“I don’t want to say it’s preparing us, because it’s a tough tour with a lot of really, really good guys in the field each week, but it’s more economical for us as a new team to get going in the 410 sprint car world.”
Sponsors of the new team include Sundollar Restoration, which will be back with Wise for a third consecutive season this year; QuikPits, a new sponsor of Wise’s racing efforts based in Plymouth, Mich.; and Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales, a longtime supporter of grassroots racing in the Midwestern United States.
Above all, Wise hopes he and Priddy can leave their mark together as a team, building a place for themselves among the powerhouse teams in winged sprint car racing such as Rudeen Racing, Buch Motorsports and Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing.
“Wayne and I are going into this with a mindset that we can make some noise and I believe we’ll do that,” Wise said. “As with any new team, sometimes it takes a little while to jell and get things to go smoothly, but I think we can get up to speed and contend at the front relatively quickly this season.”