DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (22 January 2021) – As the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship prepares to launch this Friday with the Roar Before the 24, the field of drivers and teams are all working through their checklists to prepare in the build up to the 59th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31. But one set of to-dos is all new for 2021, as teams not only need to work through how to race their way to a new Rolex, but also how to do so safely in the time of Covid-19.
One driver will be using his background as a physician and covid survivor to focus his racing platform on bringing awareness to Covid safety with the goal of getting the fans back to the track.
Sean Creech Motorsports (SCM) driver Lance Willsey is set for his 10th outing in the 24, co-driving the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Exelixis Ligier JS P320 Nissan with four-time Rolex 24 winner Joao Barbosa as well as Wayne Boyd and Yann Clairay.
“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 anticipated to be the only physician in the starting field for the Rolex event. “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, who is a Covid survivor, 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 drivers and teams to get back to entertaining tens of thousands of fans live in person.
“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 has two goals for the twice around the clock classic.
“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.”
Preparations for both efforts have been coming along, with Willsey and SCM getting some laps on board the new Ligier machine last month, while the promotional effort also builds ahead of the roar and the race.
“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.”