In his first three months on the job, new IMSA president John Doonan has experienced the highs of taking prototype convergence across the finish line with the ACO to the lows of postponing one of the series’ biggest events, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Having spent more than a decade leading Mazda’s sports car programs in the series he now runs, being on the inside — especially during the crisis meetings that led to the Sebring decision — has given the Illinois native a new appreciation for the NASCAR-owned organization and its parent company.
“As I said prior to getting here, and then when I first got here, I always knew the level of professionalism with which the IMSA team operated was phenomenal,” he told RACER. “And in moments like these that we’re all facing, the team rises and that level of professionalism becomes extremely evident. The methodical approach, and the patience, and the thoughtfulness with which the team operated as the coronavirus containment needs grew and became more and more of a challenge was impressive to behold. I’m proud of everyone who assisted in getting us to where we are now with the postponement of Sebring in such a short period of time. Our ultimate decision to postpone was because one-third of our teams were not able to get all necessary personnel here due to the travel ban.”
It’s believed NASCAR has been holding virus-related meetings on almost an hourly basis to gauge the correct response to implement for the various events throughout the myriad series it oversees. As an important property founded by NASCAR president Jim France in 1969 with John and Peggy Bishop, IMSA’s needs have been at the center of the stock car organization’s COVID-19 strategies.
“I think the other thing that has become abundantly clear is NASCAR and IMSA working together on the technical side is one thing, but the collaboration that I have seen and felt with my NASCAR colleagues with the virus concerns to manage has been something really special to be part of,” Doonan added.
“Obviously we’re all in the business of putting on top-level professional motorsports events, but a lot of collaboration and thought went into making sure that we were aligned in that with our NASCAR colleagues, with the overarching theme that we wanted to do the right thing for our fans, our participants, the communities in which they were traveling. The decisions we’ve made come after consultation with all of the proper medical professionals, so that’s of the utmost importance. That’s priority number one.
“And with their guidance, you need to lock arms with your teammates and make the best decisions that you can. We were fortunate in the case of being able to postpone the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, so we’re very excited that we can still keep that historical event on the calendar for November 11-14.”