IMSA WeatherTech Series Postpones Long Beach, Mid-Ohio Races, Hopes for May Return

In the face of travel restrictions, CDC recommendations and the continued threat of the coronavirus, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship officials announced on Tuesday that the race weekend at Long Beach (April 17-18) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Park (May 1-3) have been postponed.

This weekend’s scheduled Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring was postponed last week and rescheduled for Nov. 11-14.

“Guidelines from then Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and safety protocols have led IMSA to postpone all events through May 3,” IMSA president John Doonan said in a letter to fans on the IMSA website on Tuesday. NASCAR released a similar statement and timeline on Tuesday for returning back to racing after May 3.

That timeline would put IMSA’s next possible race at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear May 29-30 on Belle Isle. That timeline, clearly, is a best-case scenario in a quickly changing landscape when it comes to the coronavirus and both local and federal restrictions on travel and the number of people allowed to gather for events.

In Michigan, for example, bars and restaurants closed indefinitely on Monday to anything but drive-thru and pickup orders. On Sunday, the CDC announced a recommendation for an eight-week stop on any gatherings of more the 50 people, which would appear to keep the sports world sidelined until at least May 11.

The exact date of a return, however, could be ultimately dictated by government recommendations or travel restrictions.

“It’s one event at a time,” Doonan said. “We have a task force for scheduling that is meeting on a regular basis, looking at alternative dates, looking at places where we could place one of our single-make championships on maybe a completely different weekend to keep the integrity of the schedule and the number of races to the best of our ability in tact.”

When contacted by Autoweek, Doonan went on to say, “The focus for everybody is on safety. My heart and prayers go out to anyone who is facing this or who has perhaps lost a loved one.

“We need to put it all in perspective and realize the real important things in life. I just hope we can get back to normalcy in our day-to-day lives and also start making noise at racetracks sooner rather than later.”

Doonan added that the series is working with promoters and racing communities to reschedule any races that are postponed.

As for sports car racing and a race that involves a handful of IMSA teams every year, Doonan said that he expects to learn of the decsion regarding the 24 Hours of Le Mans, currently scheduled for June 13-14.

“They’re going to make a decision on the timing of the event on April 15,” Doonan said. “So we’ve got just under 30 days until that decision is made.”

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