DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s a busy time of year for every IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team as they gear up for the rapidly approaching season that starts with the 57th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
But it’s even busier for the new AIM Vasser Sullivan team that will debut next season with a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 race cars in the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona class. The team, which was introduced last month, partners 1996 CART Champ Car World Series champion Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan – who also are partners with Dale Coyne Racing in the IndyCar Series – with longtime sports car competitors AIM Autosport owned by Andrew Bordin, Ian Willis and Keith Willis.
“We were involved in one of the original bids with the Lexus program prior to the last team, which did not go through,” Sullivan explained. “The timing wasn’t right for a lot of reasons. Post that happening, we never took our eye off of it. We attended two IMSA events over a three-year period to try to stay close to it and connected to it. I would say since that period, we’ve never taken our eye off the ball.
“We love IndyCar racing, but we think that IMSA, specific to GTD, is just in a great spot with regards to its relevancy to the manufacturer and specific to our program with Lexus. Jimmy is a Toyota dealer, so the tie-in back to the showroom and the sale of automobiles is a personal thing for our partnership. I think that GTD and IMSA as a platform as it relates to that is the best thing going out there, so we’re really excited to be in it for a lot of reasons, but that being one of them.”
This week, Vasser and Sullivan were hard at work in the team’s new headquarters in the Charlotte, N.C., area. The shop is currently a hotbed of activity.
“We have a lot to do, of course, but it’s very exciting,” said Vasser. “We’ve got the new facility here in Charlotte that’s absolutely fantastic and perfect for us. We have three Lexus RC F GT3s on the ground here. We have things flying around, bodies here working.”
“It was the Change (Racing) GT Lambo shop that they’ve operated out of in the past,” added Sullivan. “The primary boxes that we had to check was, one, it was important for us to have a geographical vicinity to TRD (Toyota Racing Development). It’s still a customer program at the end of the day, but we have TRD as a partner from an engineering perspective and from a human resources perspective. It was not critical, but very important for us to have an operational base that was close to them.
“This shop was on the ground, it was available, and it had already been basically set up as a GTD operation, so it was pretty plug and play for us to be able to move right in and get started right away. As you can tell right now, there’s not enough hours in the day for what it is that we’re trying to achieve. The first step is functionality, but this shop that we’re in now checked all those boxes, so I think it’ll be a great place for us.”