Indiana Senator Mike Braun has asked Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to include motor racing in the organization’s list of international athletes to be granted access to the United States in order to participate in racing’s return to action.
Senator Braun’s letter, sent on Sunday, follows the Order signed by the DHS last Thursday, which gave border crossing exemptions to a number of specific professional sporting leagues, including basketball, football, baseball, hockey, golf, and tennis. Motor racing was notably omitted from the Order, but a provision at the bottom of the decree allows for revisions to the list.
“I agree with the Administration’s efforts to work with professional sports leagues to ensure that, with proper precautions, sports leagues are able to assist their professional athletes in returning to the United States. I thank you for your thoughtful approach to the pandemic recovery,” Senator Braun wrote. “I would, however, respectfully point out the one glaring omission in your recent Order—motorsport.”
Listing IndyCar and IMSA as two specific examples of series with well-defined plans to go racing with coronavirus-related safety precautions in place, Senator Brown went on the say IndyCar and IMSA “have significant international participation but have as much impact on the ‘national interest’ cited in the Order as other stick and ball sports. The traveling nature of the series provide individual tracks the opportunity to host these major events and provide significant local economic impact at every stop on the tour.
“As you consider further exemptions to the national interest from a sporting perspective, I implore you to consider adding motorsport to the list of exemptions.”
Citing the delay in his home state’s Indianapolis 500, which was meant to be run on May 24 until the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back to August, Senator Brown mentioned IndyCar’s season opener on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway in the letter to DHS, suggesting the addition of motor racing drivers and key personnel to the travel exception has a particular urgency.
Two rookie IndyCar drivers who are outside the country — Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing, and Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing — are on the clock to reach the Texas circuit outside Dallas-Forth Worth as the series prepared to hold its first race of 2020 in less than two weeks.
Both drivers are working through IndyCar to resolve the matter in time to participate in the Genesys 300 race on the 1.5-mile oval, and appear to be making positive progress.
“We are hopeful our drivers will be included in that [DHS] permission,” IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told RACER. “We’re also working on non-DHS efforts, through embassies. We’ve been working on both in unison.”