In January of this year the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, driven by Bryan Sellers, Andrea Calderelli, Corey Lewis, and Madison Snow stormed to victory in the GTD class of IMSA’s blue riband 24 Hours of Daytona race. With the series forced to halt racing in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, you will still see the PMR car at the top of the points standings for the 2020 season, as no races have been run since Daytona. As the series prepares to come back to the track with a second, albeit shorter, Daytona road course event on July 4th, that winning Lamborghini will not be on the starting grid.
Paul Miller Racing has announced that it will skip the next two IMSA races at Daytona and Sebring, and will take a race-by-race approach to the remainder of the 2020 season. Team owner Paul Miller owns a group of twelve luxury and excotic car dealerships in the New Jersey area, and currently has staff on furlough.
Interestingly, the decision was made as a save face for the employees that are still without work, rather than a lack of funds for the car to run. It’s less about not being able to afford it and more about not wanting to look bad. Miller says he is prioritizing getting his dealership staff back to work before considering a return to motorsport.
Miller’s dealerships were largely empty across the month of April, as most dealerships were. He says business is continuing to improve, but people aren’t buying new Porsche, Bentley, Rolls Royce BMW, Range Rover and Audi like they were before the pandemic. Go figure.
New Jersey was among the hardest hit states in the nation with almost 170,000 confirmed cases, and nearly 13,000 dead New Jerseyites as a result. Following an 80-day lockdown, the state is in its second stage of reopening. The state is currently seeing a downward trend in new cases and virus-related deaths, but there’s no telling how long that will last.
Miller notified IMSA of this decision on Monday, and in speaking with sportscar365 had this to say:
“This afternoon, I just notified the person that handles our logistics that we are not going to be running Daytona or Sebring,” he said. I think we’re going to try to take it one race at a time.
“A high percentage of our employees are still on furlough here in New Jersey, and obviously I like to have everybody back before I consider a direction for our little racing program. That’s kind of the big picture view of it.
“To go racing and not have our staff all recovered and pulled back and working, it would be a real slap in the face to a lot of our employees.”
“We we feel that over the next month or so based on today’s announcement, we feel that that 90 percent of our people can be recalled...” Miller said.
“But I still think we need to sit back and look at the results for June and and the results for July and then make some decisions on what we’re what we might do later in the season.”
The racing team, which is based in Georgia, has also been furloughed. Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow were supposed to drive the full season in the PMR Lamborgini Huracan. The intention is to “keep the band together”, but can Daytona victors and points leaders really be expected to sit back and watch while the rest of the grid resumes racing? I’d guess that both are attempting to find new rides ASAP for the Daytona reboot next month.
Miller will make a decision as to whether the team will run the Road America round of the championship (August 2nd) in early July to give the team time to get the car prepared.
The way I see it, if Miller has enough money to continue to entertain a multi-million dollar IMSA GTD campaign, he had enough money to keep his dealership employees receiving paychecks.