IMSA is planning to go forward with its opening races in Florida. Barring new and unforeseen developments related to COVID-19, the NASCAR-owned sports car organization will hold its January 22-24 Roar Before The 24 and Jan. 28-31 Rolex 24 At Daytona as scheduled. The March 18-20 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is also expected to go forward on its current date.
“We are working closely with local, regional and state authorities and are prepared to execute our events at Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway to kick off our 2021 season as scheduled,” an IMSA spokesperson told RACER.
“We will continue to operate under strict protocols to aid the wellbeing of all in attendance and will continue to follow all guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control.”
The confirmations come after the NTT IndyCar Series, which had its season opener planned for March 6-7 on the streets of Florida’s St. Petersburg, moved the event back to April 24-25 for COVID-related reasons. Unlike St. Petersburg, IMSA’s two Floridian rounds are held at closed-circuit facilities owned or controlled by its parent organization, which afford a greater degree of autonomous decision making by NASCAR and IMSA.
Having engaged the Department of Homeland Security to approve inbound travel for IMSA’s international participants last season, it’s believed the same travel permissions exist for those taking part in the 2021 season.
Although no crowd size figures have been released, the Roar test, Rolex 24, and Sebring WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events will host fans while using the same coronavirus protection policies it employed at both facilities in 2020.
Unrelated to IMSA’s intent to race at Sebring in March, there are growing concerns at to whether the FIA World Endurance Championship will join the WeatherTech Championship for the combined ‘Super Sebring’ endurance weekend.
At present, the WEC is primed to open its six-race calendar at the Florida road course, but RACER understands the likelihood of the WEC making the cross-Atlantic trip to Sebring is shrinking while its European teams deal with various lockdowns and travel bans related to COVID-19.
If the WEC’s March 19 1000 Miles of Sebring is not held, its next event — and the two following rounds — would take place in central Europe from May through July before international travel to Japan would be required in September.