By Tony DiZinno, Motorsports & Industry Communications
The checkered flag at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta concluded IMSA’s 2019 championship season and provided an opportunity to reflect on all the elements that made the season what it was.
For Michelin, the Motul Petit Le Mans race marked the completion of a 10-month long, 12-race weekend odyssey in its first year as Official Tire of IMSA. This provided a wealth of memories and records thanks to a small army of people, including Jackson Motorsports Group, which served as Michelin’s operations and logistics partner.
The on-track component was, as ever, continuous over the four-day race weekend: Nearly 100 cars in three IMSA race series, with nearly 7,400 tires, 20 tractor trailers and roughly 50 Jackson Motorsports personnel joined with Michelin engineers and motorsports tire specialists on site for the event.
Adding to the complexity, Michelin Raceway has a unique two-paddock setup. The main paddock and pit lane are on the driver’s right side of the front straight, while the support paddock and pit lane are on driver’s left. This two-paddock setup meant Jackson staff had to perform their weekend roles in two different locations with countless trips back and forth in order to fulfill the tasks and provide tire service to teams in the three IMSA race series.
Michelin and Jackson’s efforts in its maiden season in this expanded role did not go unnoticed by senior IMSA personnel. Outgoing IMSA President Scott Atherton even took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to welcome a tour group of Jackson non-motorsports associates to the track. Atherton’s last race weekend as IMSA President also saw him serve as Grand Marshal, where he both gave the command to start engines and then wave the checkered flag for the 10-hour race.
From the activation side, Michelin’s logo appeared ubiquitous. Whether adorning exterior and interior spaces of the brand new 52,000-square foot Michelin Tower, or in any of the three hospitality areas, or in the Michelin Village fan zone itself where all four of Michelin’s activation “pods” were set up, there was an ever-present view of the Michelin Man at the track. Michelin’s dealer guests came to the track as well and were able to enjoy their usual complement of activities, including team garage tours and podium VIP access. Jackson associates staffed the fan zone and arranged the tours and podium opportunities for Michelin guests.
Jackson also helped provide content for major media outlets: NBC Sports, IMSA Radio, The Torque Show, Sportscar365, RACER magazine, as well as additional media. Meanwhile, Jackson helped to introduce the new Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta app and the Michelin tire workshop tour narration and display.
Jackson also supported Michelin’s second 2019 at-track Michelin Pilot Experience event, where a group of eight social media figures were immersed both at the facility and off-site at the Porsche Experience Center in downtown Atlanta.
The weekend capped off the season where the Michelin name was prevalent—from the name on the track itself to the tires on the cars, to the Friday headline race (the Michelin Pilot Challenge series) and the endurance championship within a championship (the Michelin Endurance Cup).
Michelin tires continued to set qualifying and lap records over the course of the weekend. Each of the seven classes set or established benchmark lap times in both qualifying and the races. The overall race winners also set a new distance record in the 10-hour race by more than 55 miles and 20 laps.
If this all seems overwhelming to recap, it’s because it is. Countless hours, weeks and months went into planning this year’s event. But all of it, like a team in a race itself, comes down to execution.
The collaborative effort with Jackson ensured the significant number of Michelin-specific items occurring at the final IMSA race weekend of the season went off without a hitch.