Waldmann, nickname Waldi , ran his first race on a 80- cc - Kawasaki and ended it in fourth place. His father, in whose Ennepetal company he completed his apprenticeship as a gas-water plumber , supported him in his early years.
In the 1992 season he led after five races in the world championship standings, but after some technical defects he was only able to finish the season in third place. The following year Waldmann switched from Honda to Aprilia and won the last race of the season, the FIM Grand Prix in Jarama . For the 1994 season, he switched to Dieter Stappert's "HB Racing Team" in the 250 cc class. Thanks to the very good machines, Waldmann was able to achieve a number of successes, but during these years he drove against the almost invincible Italian Max Biaggi , who twice just got the upper hand in the World Cup rankings in 1996 and 1997 . Ralf Waldmann was one of the few pilots of that time who were able to offer the Italians a face-to-face fight.
In 1998 Waldmann switched to the class up to 500 cm³, but mostly only drove in the midfield because the engine power of his Modenas KR3 was too weak. His best result was a seventh place at the Grand Prix of Germany at the Sachsenring . There he was also celebrated with standing ovations because of his commitment to the track as the location of the German Motorcycle Grand Prix. At the end of the season he finished 14th in the World Cup with 46 points.
In the 1999 season Waldmann was sixth in the world championship up to 250 cm³. He switched back to Dieter Stappert and Sepp Schlögl's team , which also meant switching to a 250 Aprilia. In the first free practice session at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang , Waldmann suffered a broken right hand and had to start the world championship with no points. Then whole series of bad starts made it difficult for him to advance in the World Championship. Waldmann stood on the podium three times: second in Mugello , third at the Sachsenring and again second in Brno .
The year 2000 was to be Ralf Waldmann's last full World Cup year. With two wins in Jerez and Donington Park , he was seventh overall with 143 points at the end of the season. Particularly noteworthy is his last victory at the British Grand Prix in 2000: Almost a whole lap back, after the onset of rain, he drove through the entire field of drivers in the final laps due to his choice of rain tires, in order to still be in the last corner on the infamous, slippery Donington Park Circuit to win the race.
After a detour into automobile sport in 2001 and a few wildcard appearances for the UGT 3000 team in the 2002 motorcycle world championship , Ralf Waldmann returned to motorcycle racing in 2005 after a break of more than two years and started in the superbike class the International German Motorcycle Championship (IDM) . In November 2005 Ralf Waldmann announced his final retirement from active racing.
At the 2009 British Grand Prix , Ralf Waldmann made a short comeback in the 250 cc World Championship as a substitute driver for Russian Vladimir Leonow in the Viessmann Kiefer Racing Team . He crashed with his Aprilia after a few laps and was eliminated.
In his long career in the World Championship, Waldmann has contested 169 Grand Prix races, of which he was able to win 20 . This makes him the most successful pilot in World Cup history who never became world champion .