At Motul Petit Le Mans, Michelin offers its fans an all-access pass to the race of a lifetime
This year’s Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta will be remembered as one for the history books. Mazda’s sleek RT-24P prototype racer won the overall event by just a few seconds in its last-ever outing, after being two laps down in the middle of the day. Corvette Racing clinched the championship in their final appearance as well — but not before fan favorite Corvette driver Jordan Taylor was involved in a massive high-speed incident that retired multiple cars from the race. It seems certain that people will be talking about Petit 2021 for years to come.
For Michelin’s guests from Tuner Theory, however, Petit Le Mans was all the above, plus a chance for them to see how fans of the IMSA racing series experience Michelin at the racetrack, on the open road and beyond. Over the course of an unforgettable weekend, the Tuner Theory crew drove supercars at the limit, experienced the creation of world-class cuisine with Chef Gary Menes of the MICHELIN-starred restaurant Le Comptoir, and learned all about how Michelin provides mobility for nearly every aspect of our lives.
Of course, one of the fastest applications of Michelin’s mobility technology is found on track at Petit Le Mans. IMSA fields five different classes of race car at this race, from the outrageous DPi prototypes to the GTD sports cars that look like the Porsches and Corvettes in your own driveway, but all the cars have one thing in common: they challenge the limit on Michelin’s world-class racing tires. These tires are specifically constructed to address the challenge of endurance racing while also giving the Michelin engineering team a way to test and improve new technologies for eventual use in their roadgoing products.
There’s no substitute for watching the Mazda and Cadillac prototypes roar by at almost triple the legal freeway speed, but that’s not all Michelin had to offer its fans and friends. The two teams of the Master Chef competition in the Michelin fan zone brought the heat to a star-studded showdown between a scallop dish and a scintillating steak dinner. In a situation like this, there’s no more room for error in the preparation than there is when diving down Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s fast final turn, and the coordination among the team has to be at the level of the most professional mid-race pitstop.
And did we mention that both of the competing recipes had to use sustainable ingredients that were inspired by Michelin’s “démonstrateur 46” tire, the first racing tire to be able to claim that 46 percent of the materials it contains are sustainable? We can’t recommend that you take a bite out of the MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport tires on your Porsche, but a few of the environmentally friendly items used in the sustainable tire are, in fact, good enough to eat!
Michelin’s expansive display in the “Fan Zone” included everything from high-performance supercars shod in sticky racetrack rubber to the brand’s popular and well-received MICHELIN® Wild Enduro mountain-bike tire. Each car in the display had a QR code fans could use to find out all the details of the tires with which it was equipped.
At the same time, Michelin’s famous mascot, the “Michelin Man”, was making friends in the paddock. IMSA always lets its fans have an up-close-and-personal look at the race, and at Petit Le Mans that access also included a chance for a photo with the Michelin Man himself.
Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the Michelin fan experience at Petit Le Mans, but certainly one that turned a lot of heads, was the John Deere tractor equipped with the MICHELIN® TWEEL tire. This innovative product replaces a pneumatic tire on a solid wheel rim with a remarkable-looking one-piece machine to do the work of both, using Michelin’s extensive experience in rubber and composite construction. The TWEEL® airless radial tire can’t get a flat, and it doesn’t need you to monitor the tire pressure.
When the race ended, with almost photo finishes in most classes after more than ten hours, you could stand on the rooftop of Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s Podium Club and see the long snakes of headlights leaving the track in the cool Georgia night. The capacity crowd of fans had seen a race to remember, and all the ways in which Michelin had been an irreplaceable part of it.