Ian Dawson has described the last few weeks as a “battle” to get his D3+ Transformers team onto the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship grid.
The Texas-based outfit is making its long-awaited series debut in this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen with a Ligier JS P30 Nissan for Theodor Olsen, Dominic Cicero and Ben Devlin.
It comes nearly four years after initially announcing a LMP2 program for the 2018 season that never materialized, although work continued in the background with the father-and-son operation.
Dawson Racing made a lone appearance at the 2018 Roar Before the Rolex 24 pre-season test with its Ligier JS P3 Nissan car with Olsen in IMSA Prototype Challenge but had been absent from the IMSA paddock since.
“It took a bit of time,” Dawson told Sportscar365. “Hasbro always wanted to come in with the Transformers brand. We sort of nearly got there in 2019.
“We were going to actually go in ’20 and then COVID came so it was [delayed] another year.
“Then really it took a bit of settling.”
Dawson explained that the program was to go ahead only if it made sense commercially, citing Hasbro’s continued involvement as well as its new partner Chevron.
“It’s not a driver-funded project,” he said. “I always said that when I stopped I wouldn’t do this again (relying on driver funding).”
With no available parts to upgrade its existing Ligier JS P3 chassis to 2020 LMP3 specification, Dawson said they’ve had to lease a Ligier JS P320 from Ligier Automotive North America for this weekend’s debut.
“Max [Crawford] and I got our heads together,” he said. “It was a car they upgraded but they haven’t run it since last year.
“It had to be wrapped. We had to put our motor in it because there’s a shortage of motors.
“We were going to lease another car but it fell through after two weeks. We got caught so the only way was to try and lease [the Ligier NA-owned] car.”
While having gotten off to a challenging start to the weekend on Friday, Dawson said he feels better prepared after working through a number of items overnight.
“It’s just been a battle,” he said. “No timing, no driver IDs, no this or that.
“We were here until 2 a.m. and did a setup on it and found loads of things. We’re now in the mix.
“It’s been brutal not having been in it for six or seven years.”
Team Planning to Complete LMP3 Season
While having initially announced a two-race program around the pair of Watkins Glen races, Dawson said they are in for the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season.
Olsen and Cicero will pilot the car for the remaining sprint races with Devlin returning for the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans in November.
“We’re going to run the rest of the season,” Dawson said. “The goal is to run LMP3 next year. But I want to see what happens. I been caught [out] in the past.
“What I’ve learned with this is that we need stability. But this weekend has been a bit of an eye-opener, actually.
“It’s a struggle but I’m not going to do it wrong and I’m not going to hemorrhage tons of money at it.
“We’ve got corporate partners we have to give value to.”
Dawson said they recently extended its partnership with Hasbro through 2025.