IMSA is working with U.S. government authorities to allow the entry of foreign series competitors for its expected resumption of racing this summer.
Confirmed by series president John Doonan on Friday, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will restart with a July 4 night race at Daytona International Speedway, followed two weeks later with an event at Sebring International Raceway.
Roughly 40 percent of teams are currently impacted by the U.S. border’s closure and ban of people arriving from Canada, Europe and parts of Asia, including the majority of drivers from the GT Le Mans class.
The travel ban, which is currently in effect through May 30, is expected to be extended through the summer by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Doonan confirmed work is underway on potential exceptions to allow drivers, engineers and other support crew into the U.S. for IMSA’s races, with more details to follow in the coming weeks.
“The fact [is] that so many of our competitors are around the globe are outside of the U.S.,” Doonan said in a videoconference with teams on Friday.
“We have been working very diligently and closely with our government affairs colleagues here in the NASCAR and IMSA family.
“We’ve been working very closely with outside consulting firms, the United States State Department, the Department of Homeland Security as well as the U.S. Travel Department.
“We expect to have more detail on the ability for our participants to travel and to enter the United States to compete and we’ll share that information as soon as possible such that everyone can make proper travel plans and also adhere to the guidelines related to the CDC self-isolation and all the things that come with being able to operate the safe manner.”
A number of questions remain over such a potential travel allowance for foreign IMSA competitors, including whether people under the country’s visa waiver program, ESTA, would be permitted or just those that have existing work visas.
It’s understood if exceptions are to be made, a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine rule would likely still be in effect.
IMSA to Restart With Crew Limits, Two-Day Events
Doonan confirmed that IMSA will be taking a “deep look” at team and series staffing levels for the early events with a focus on safety and cost savings for competitors.
The July events at Daytona and Sebring will both be run as two-day shows, with load-in on the Friday morning followed by practice later that day, with qualifying on the Saturday morning of each two-hour and 40-minute race.
IMSA will be following NASCAR’s newly developed safety protocols that will be distributed to teams in the “coming days and weeks” according to Doonan, who said it will center around medical screening, social distancing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“As is the case with NASCAR, there will be a mandate limited staffing levels at all of our early events and as the season progresses we’ll be able to make adjustments accordingly based on CDC guidelines and how those guidelines develop over the course of the year,” he said.
Doonan said a testing ban for the WeatherTech Championship remains in place until further notice.