Compass Racing has relocated its GT3 operations to the U.S., in a move that’s been accelerated due to the current border restrictions, according to team principal Karl Thomson.
The former Toronto-based team will now call San Diego home, although a temporary shop has been established in Miami for the next six weeks, which has seen the team’s core group of Canadian crew set to remain in Florida through the summer.
With the U.S./Canada border closed until June 21, and likely to be extended, Thomson explained to Sportscar365 that he didn’t want to take any risks in potentially not having key members of his team for its McLaren 720S GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup season, which kicks off next month in Daytona.
“When IMSA announced plans to return to racing, we couldn’t wait and decide what to do,” Thomson said.
“I couldn’t wait until June 21, so it made sense, even though there’s an expense attached to it, to get the full-time core Canadians a condo and get a temporary shop that we can use so we know we’re good to go.
“We’ve always been good to go. It’s just a question of how do we cross the border.
“It was important to get some our leadership to the U.S. and make sure they are here.”
The team’s Toronto base was closed earlier this month when its transporter headed to Florida.
Thomson explained that the move to the U.S. was always planned although has happened quicker than anticipated due to the current travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We purchased a building in California that would be the new main facility for Compass Racing,” he explained. “We already moved the GT4 program for SRO America here and all that remained in Toronto was GT3.
“I think what the situation with the virus has done is has hastened the closure of our Toronto shop.
“Our main office was always intended to be California with a likely satellite shop on the East Coast, given the IMSA schedule.
“We made a commitment to be here in California and being a Califoria-based team when we started the ball rolling in building this building back in January.”
Thomson said the team will work from its temporary shop in Miami until the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round in September, where it will then be based at is new permanent West Coast facility.
“We’ve had the time to concentrate on the the renovation and the build out of the shop here in California,” Thomson said. “It’s given us a lot of time to evaluate how we work logistically.
“This is Year 17 for us in IMSA and it’s fun because I feel like we’re opening a new chapter here.
“This has been a real opportunity to make some real lemonade out of lemons.”
Decision on Enduros to be Dictated by Championship Position
Thomson said a decision on whether the team will enter its McLaren for the three remaining IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds will depend on its position in the GTD championship.
The team had been eying a run in the Indianapolis 8 Hour prior to IMSA’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen getting rescheduled to the same weekend as the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli event in early October.
“We’re already thinking into 2021 because we want to be on the grid in Daytona for the 24-hour,” Thomson said.
“I’m excited to have a shorter dry run as our opening run of the Sprint Cup, to have us at Daytona, so we can learn as we go into next year and hopefully running the entire season.
“I’m excited about the future of IMSA; I’m excited about the future of sports car racing. I look at the opportunity we’ve got in reaching new fans that are hungry for sporting events.
“If we continue to do this right — NASCAR and IndyCar are doing a good job — we’ve got a really good opportunity in sports car racing right now.”