A company with strong ties to IMSA and NASCAR is shifting some of its work to manufacture facemasks in the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Composite Resources, which is the Rock Hill, South Carolina-based parent company of CORE autosport, began shipping hundreds of facemasks Tuesday after starting up production four days earlier.
“In a matter of 24 hours, we had a prototype, the material come in, had a production plan, had an e-commerce site set up,” Morgan Brady, the chief operating officer of CORE autosport, told NBCSports.com in an interview Monday. “As soon as we went live, the orders kept coming in, and whether it’s just a family looking for facemasks, or a hospital looking for thousands, it was clear there was an unmet need there for the community.
“So we are producing hundreds a day and working toward many thousands per day in order to support the need out there.”
Brady said CORE autosport and Composite Resources founder John Bennett had been inspired by watching a TV news report last Wednesday about a Georgia hospital that had burned through five months’ worth of its N95 masks in six days. The hospital’s cardiovascular unit began sewing together washable masks to fit over the N95s (which are among the many medical supplies in scarce supply worldwide, causing many companies to shift priorities) and prolong their usage.
Composite Resources’ masks, which aren’t FDA approved, are designed to work the same way. They are made of a cotton-polyester blend similar to T-shirts.
“We are going off of some studies out there that show several layers of this cotton-poly material performs similar to like a surgical facemask,” Brady said. “And so what we’re hearing from the medical community is, because obviously it’s not FDA certified, the medical community is benefiting from taking these masks and wearing it over the N95 mask and then washing our mask to make everything last longer.”
Brady said the facemasks are on sale to the public through its website but “if we start reaching the point where we can’t keep up with demand, we will have to limit it to medical professionals.”
The masks are being made directly above the CORE autosport shop where the team prepares its Nos. 911 and 912 Porsche 911 RSRs. Those cars run the GTLM class in IMSA with drivers Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, Matt Campbell, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet.
Composite Resources also has manufactured composite deck lids on Cup cars for several years from a building beside its IMSA shop.
While its racing operations currently are at a standstill, Brady said CORE autosport hadn’t diverted staff to facemasks yet “but we may pull them in to support logistics.”