Welcome to The Grid, R&T’s quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
IndyCar and IMSA Are Targeting June to Restart Racing
The coronavirus pandemic and local shelter-in-place orders designed to help stop the spread of the disease have put motorsports on hold in North America and abroad. Series want to get back to the track not just because it’s in the racing spirit, but because they don’t make money when they’re not racing. Over at Racer, Marshall Pruett has reports about IndyCar’s and IMSA’s plans to get back to the grid.
IndyCar is looking to start its season on June 5 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Texas governor Gregg Abbot has relaxed stay-at-home orders, making the race there a real possibility, though it might involve a race behind closed doors. “I think if everyone’s smart, and does their best with social distancing, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t,” team owner Bobby Rahal told Racer.
Meanwhile, IMSA is looking to get going later in June at Watkins Glen, with a shortened race weekend. Having spectators there might be possible as fans could theoretically spread safely around the Glen’s expansive infield. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking a more cautious approach to reopening the hard-hit state, so it remains to be seen if racing there is realistic. Plus, the IMSA WeatherTech series has many people participating from around the globe, so international travel restrictions could also make the race infeasible.
Pruett had this to say of IndyCar, but the same applies to IMSA: “It’s weighing the value of business survival versus social distancing. It’s contemplating the loss of sponsors and decreased stability in a fragile sport versus flattening the curve and the health risks posed to the participants and their families.”
Be sure to read Racer for more detail on the plans.
Tesla Reports 3rd Straight Quarterly Profit
Even though the real damage will be seen in Q2, the coronavirus crisis had an effect on automaker Q1 results. But Tesla managed a profit. Automotive News reports that Tesla posted a $16 million profit last quarter, thanks to the successful launch of the Model Y and sales of emissions credits to other automakers. But CEO Elon Musk isn’t happy. Following a late-night Twitter rant about local shelter-in-place orders on Wednesday, Musk described the orders as “fascist,” adding “[t]his isn’t democratic. This isn’t freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.” It’s worth noting that local stay-at-home orders have dashed Tesla’s plans to resume production this week at its Fremont, California factory.
Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini to Resume Car Production on May 4
Car production in Europe is slowly coming back to life. Auto Express reports that Rolls-Royce will become the first English carmaker to start production when it opens up the doors at its Goodwood factory on May 4, while over in Italy, Lamborghini also plans to get back to building supercars on the same day. Bentley also announced today that it plans on having workers return on the 11.