IMSA has not ruled out the possibility of having combined events with IndyCar or SRO America should it need to reschedule additional races later in the year, according to series president John Doonan.
While currently reduced to ten events following the cancelation of both the street races in Long Beach and Detroit, which had been with the NTT IndyCar Series, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is slated to return to action in late June for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
However, Sportscar365 understands that contingency plans are being considered should additional events be postponed or rescheduled that could see IMSA double-up with other North American sanctioning bodies.
Speaking with John Hindhaugh in an exclusive interview on Wednesday’s Midweek Motorsport on RS1, Doonan confirmed such possibilities, although stressed that the next 15 days will dictate if any changes will be made to its current schedule.
“We’ve had conversations,” Doonan said. “With a lot of drivers doing both multiple championships and any three of those, SRO, IndyCar and IMSA, so we’ve had a lot of those types of discussions.”
When asked by Sportscar365 in a media teleconference Thursday ahead of this evening’s IMSA iRacing Pro Series event, Doonan expanded on the possible contingency plans the sanctioning body is working on.
“We tried to put some gaps into our season, open weekends,” he said. “I think there are opportunities to share weekends, as we have typically done at Long Beach or Belle Isle with IndyCar.
“I would certainly hope that we can all work together, in what will go down in history as one of the most unique seasons ever.
“It is realistic to think there’s possibilities. I know IndyCar’s got their weekend in early October that they’ve identified as an additional Grand Prix.
“But our hope is to certainly try to stick with what we have currently published and if we need to add things in we’ll look at any and all alternatives to be able to provide the right value and content for our partners and our fans.”
Sportscar365 understands there had been an offer from SRO America for the WeatherTech Championship to join the Indianapolis 8 Hour Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli weekend prior to IndyCar taking the slot for its Harvest GP.
Doonan, however, said that “anything is on the table” in terms of race options and acknowledged discussions of adding the DPi class to the existing GT-only weekends at Lime Rock Park and Virginia International Raceway as another possibility.
“We’ve looked at every option,” he said. “We’re trying to find places that make sense for teams. I think that’s another huge factor to make sure they have proper timings between events.
“We’ve got a big old whiteboard with post-it notes everywhere and lots of spreadsheets and we got a bunch of different scenarios.”
Any decision on possible further calendar adjustments is not expected to be made until the end of the month, when the U.S. government’s shelter-in-place guidelines are currently set to expire, which Doonan said would be IMSA’s “window to reopen discussions” on what may need to be adjusted on the schedule front.
He said they are still planning for a return to racing at Watkins Glen on June 26-28, although stressed the desire of retaining ten races “at the very least” in the WeatherTech Championship season this year.
“We’ve lost a couple so we won’t have a full 12, but all the other promoters and all teams are really anxious to get back going and I feel like we’ve got ourselves in a decent place right now if we need to move anything else around,” Doonan said.
“Sensitivity is still there and we have to be socially responsible when we go back to racing.”
IMSA Could “Take a Look At” Racing Behind Closed Doors
Doonan said that IMSA could look at having races without spectators although indicated that it would not likely be their first choice.
“It really starts with our medical professionals,” he said. “We’ve got great medical liaisons on the IMSA and NASCAR side. There’s obviously many experts out there that first and foremost, need to be the gauge.
“Our business model is also focused on our promoters.
“I would always want our races to be successful for our teams, our stakeholders and our promoters. We do count on the folks that, for so many years, have sat on the hills of the race track and watched us compete in IMSA.
“Hopefully we can do that but we certainly can do that via television.
“I want to get back to racing as normal. If we could go back without fans, we’d have to take a look at that.”