Hans Emmel is the Michelin IMSA WeatherTech Series manager.
A native of Houston, Emmel spent his younger days in Norway and Houston before his family relocated to Greenville S.C. A graduate of Clemson University in mechanical engineering, Emmel has been with Michelin for 23 years. Here is his story.
“After graduating from Clemson, I started at Michelin as a tire designer in our original equipment group for one of the largest manufacturers in the world,” he explained.
“As part of a new program, Michelin invited people from departments around the company to volunteer and support motorsports programs on the weekends. They knew of my interest and my history of racing go-karts and motorcycles.
“I went after it, supporting anything they wanted to give me. Whether it was American Le Mans Series, ASA oval track racing or Trans Am under the BFGoodrich tires brand, I was excited to be a part of our motorsports teams.”
“That opened up an opportunity to interview in Clermont-Ferrand, France, to be hired as a Michelin Formula 1 tire engineer assigned to a team.
“The interview was with Pascal Vasselon, now the technical director at Toyota [Gazoo] Racing.
“A few days later, I was hired for the job and moved to France. It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to take a chance and go work in Formula 1 and travel across the world.
“I was placed into a version of French training, what they call full immersion. We only spoke French, and no English.
“Four months later, I was on a plane headed over to Clermont to start working in Formula 1. From there, I went straight to testing with McLaren at Monza in Italy. It was an eye-opening experience for a kid from South Carolina.
“At that time, every one of the Michelin Formula 1 teams had a dedicated test team and a dedicated racing team. As a result, we had both a dedicated Michelin test engineer and a dedicated race tire engineer for each team.
“After two years on the McLaren test team and traveling all over the globe, there was an opportunity with the Renault race team.
“I was allowed the opportunity to become the Michelin race tire engineer assigned to Renault Formula 1 in the beginning of the 2005 season. As luck would have it, one of their drivers was Fernando Alonso. It was an incredible time.”
After returning to the U.S., Emmel worked as a subjective test driver at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds for eight years.
Following that, he returned to Michelin’s original equipment team, designing tires for several other large manufacturers. He then returned to motorsports in 2019 after working as a technical account manager for the OE design team.
Now in IMSA
“It was an exciting time to be back at Daytona. The biggest car count and the biggest field we’ve had there in a long time,” he said.
“I’ve heard that the entire infield was sold out. There’s no place to park. There’s no place to camp. What an amazing sign for sports car racing. GTD Pro is new for this year, replacing GTLM, and IMSA really promoted that well.
“The truth is in the car counts, and the manufacturers have come, and they are planning for GTD Pro and GTD.
“Thinking forward, what an exciting time in 2023 with the arrival of LMDh.
“There are more manufacturers coming in at the top level, and we’re going to see competition at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans with the same machinery competing all over the world for the first time in a very long time.
“It is a positive sign for sports car racing today, and what an amazing direction for motorsports as we think about 2023 and beyond.”