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Foreign Drivers Arrive in Florida Ahead of IMSA Restart

IMSA drivers, crew and support personnel arrive in U.S. for recommended 14-day quarantine ahead of Daytona…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

A number of foreign-based drivers and support personnel have arrived in the U.S. to fulfill the country’s recommended quarantine period ahead of next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Daytona.

Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia, as well as reigning GT Daytona class champion Mario Farnbacher are among the 14 drivers on the entry list for the WeatherTech 240 at Daytona that have received exemptions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security amid the current travel ban between Europe and the U.S.

The majority of the drivers on the 100-plus person list, which includes European-based crew members and other essential support staff required to be on-site at IMSA races, have elected to adhere to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended 14-day quarantine period prior to entering Daytona International Speedway on July 3.

Gavin and Garcia, who arrived in Florida on June 18, have been sharing a house rented by Corvette Racing in Clearwater, Fla., while Farnbacher is currently in a hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. riding out the next nine days prior to the return of on-track activity. 

“IMSA worked extremely hard,” Gavin said. “Ben Johnson (team manager) and the guys back at Corvette Racing have been working really hard to keep Antonio and I in the loop on what was happening with the DHS guys.

“There were lots of questions and lots of stuff going back and forth. All credit to those guys for the amount of work they’ve gone through, which I believe is a massive amount of paperwork that had to be done to get this going.

“There was a little bit of anxiety about it, I suppose. Certainly in the last number of months, as soon as we heard that Sebring was going to be postponed and what was going to happen next and when we were going to get back to racing…

“There has been some periods where you were at home for many, many weeks and wondering what is going to happen.”

Gavin, who holds a P1 visa for foreign athletes, said that 11 other IMSA-approved personnel were on his American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Miami, which comprised of roughly half of the total passengers for that flight.

“Getting to the airport, the whole process of traveling over into the U.S. was relatively straightforward, well-run,” he said.

“The temperature checks, the paperwork we had to do and the advise on the quarantine and that stuff was good and straightforward.

“The quarantine is a recommendation, so it’s not like there’s somebody watching the building making sure we are sticking to to the rules. But it’s the thing Corvette Racing wanted us to do and it’s the right thing.”

Garcia said the current plan is for he and Gavin to stay in the U.S. through the Road America round on Aug. 2 but indicated that could be extended depending on quarantine and travel restrictions.

“We don’t want to risk it or know what the quarantine situation is going to develop,” Garcia said.” So far we’ll stay on through Road America but who knows what happens at Road America or VIR.”

Farnbacher, who like Gavin and Garcia have been following the CDC’s guidelines of social distancing and mask-wearing, said he’s just grateful to be able to return to racing.

“I’m really, really appreciative,” he said. “It was IMSA and Dustin Hesseltine (motorsports attorney) who made this possible and I think without them we wouldn’t be here. This is a huge effort and I think everybody who came internationally owes them a big thanks.

“It’s great to be back racing soon again and I can’t wait for it.”

Gavin, Garcia Trying to “Fill the Days” in Quarantine

The Corvette drivers have been staying busy with early morning bike rides and runs, followed by cooking and gaming later in the day in Clearwater, which typically reaches in excess of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

“Antonio’s got some pretty good skills with his cooking, which is good. I’m not so good on the cooking side,” Gavin admitted.

“I’m doing some shopping and doing a little bit of tidying up, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and all that sort of stuff.

“He brought his Playstation with him so we’ve been playing a bit of [games]. We’ve raced at Bathurst and Motegi in the C7.R, so that’s been kinda fun.

“We’ve just been trying to fill the days. It’s just trying to get acclimatized. We’re right on the beach so it’s nice that we can go out walk into the sea.”

Garcia added: “It’s not the first time I’ve shared a house with Olly. We used to do that every year at Sebring because we would stay there longer.

“There’s still a long way to go as we’re not used to flying over this early. But we’ll just carry on with our work.

“Outside is very, very warm. It does’t make things easy but it’s good to get used to this heat because the next two races are going to be very, very warm.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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