Lance Willsey, who is set for his tenth Rolex 24 at Daytona, is helping bring further COVID-19 awareness to the paddock at Daytona International Speedway through his medical background.
Set for a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign with Sean Creech Motorsports in LMP3, Willsey is believed to be the only physician taking part in this year’s race. He is also a COVID survivor.
“In 2020, IMSA did a spectacular job executing the race events and creating a safe environment for us to race and entertain the fans across a variety of media sources,” said Willsey, who is a uralogic oncologist.
“Now the challenge that faces us as stakeholders is, what can we do to expedite the path to bring fans back to the stands?”
Willsey is working to provide non-political, science and fact-based source of information about what motorsports fans can do to stop the spread and allow the return of fans to the race track in mass quantities.
“All of our fan facing promotion, car livery, driver suits, crew uniforms, and fan swag will be focused on that objective,” said Willsey.
“We have adopted the image of ‘Rosie the Riveter’ as a symbolic image of what this country has done in the past to deal with adversity and what we are capable of doing again.
“As both a physician and a COVID survivor it is really important to me that we provide knowledge and education for our fans so that we can accelerate the process of getting back to where we were before, as soon as possible and as safely as possible.”
The Daytona event will see limited fan access, socially distanced and within stringent guidelines as has become the norm for many sporting events over the last year.
“As great as it is to go to the Roar, it is still a bit hollow without the full amount fans being there, without the full camp grounds, and everyone wandering through the paddock getting up close with these incredible cars,” said Willsey.
“This is entertainment, and if we can’t have fans, it’s not the same experience as we all want it to be.”
Willsey said he has two goals for the race, which he will share driving duties with season-long co-driver Joao Barbosa plus reigning European Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Wayne Boyd and Frenchman Yann Clairay.
“I want to stand with my teammates on top step of the podium after 24 hours, and I want to help educate fans as to what we can all do fill the stands as soon as we can in a safe manner.
“If the 24 can entertain the fans as well as bring about change of behaviors in a positive way by people wearing masks, distancing, and learning about the vaccine, then I think we can really accelerate the process of getting back to a sense of normalcy and getting fans back to the track.
“If we can accomplish that, it’s a win win for all parties involved.
“My objective isn’t to tell anyone what to do about their health, but I want to try to use this as a platform for a greater good so folks can make the best decision based on science and.
“I think IMSA has shown great leadership in managing all the various processes that are necessary to create a safe environment for us to go out and entertain, and I want to help that process continue to result in more fans being able to come to the track.”