Joe Ignacio is not a trained magician. But through experience, long hours, great organizational skills, and an ability to anticipate or respond to changes, the race operations manager for Michelin resembles one.
Three Races (Actually Four) in Four Weeks
“People may think we just load up some tires and take them to a race, but it gets significantly busy this time of year,” said Ignacio.
The IMSA race in Detroit was the day before the official test day at Le Mans. “Nine of us flew to Le Mans and remained there through the race,” said Ignacio
Preparing for Watkins Glen also means planning for IMSA’s return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park the following week, then Lime Rock two weeks later.
“Not knowing the car counts yet for CTMP and Lime Rock makes it a bit tricky. We want to bring enough tires for each car’s allocations, plus rain tires. Some cars are not going to CTMP, and the prototypes do not go to Lime Rock.”
The Watkins Glen Plan
“We plan to have 16 tire and service trailers arrive at Watkins Glen on Sunday or Monday and get everything completely set up on Tuesday. The Mazda MX-5 Cup and Porsche Carrera Cup teams move in on Wednesday and need tires mounted so that they are ready for their Thursday morning sessions,” said Ignacio.
Michelin Pilot Challenge teams will load in on Thursday morning at Watkins Glen and practice that afternoon. The WeatherTech Championship teams load in on Friday morning and will practice later that day.
With 49 cars entered for the third Michelin Endurance Cup race of the season, plus 44 entries in the Michelin Pilot Challenge and 34 Porsche Carrera Cup North America entries, they will be busy.
“We will be dismounting used tires and mounting new tires for all of them before practice, between sessions and qualifying, and before and after their races,” said Ignacio.
“We also need to get the Michelin RFID tire scanners set up on pit exit. It is an essential part of race operations. IMSA uses that as one of their measurements while confirming their data.”
Next Stop, Canada
“After the six-hour race ends on Sunday, our Michelin engineers and motorsports tire specialists will fly back to Greenville while the Jackson Motorsports team will stay over on Monday to dismount and remount new tires for CTMP.
“They will have the inventory checkoff sheets and paperwork to cross the border on Tuesday and get everything set up at CTMP through Wednesday. The engineers will then fly to Canada on Thursday,” Ignacio said.
Ignacio’s logistics plan gets even more complex after CTMP.
“Instead of having every Michelin trailer at every race, we can help meet our sustainability objectives if we leave two or three of our service trailers at a secure location in Ohio after CTMP.”
There is also a twist. “The Porsche Carrera Cup series races in Toronto in conjunction with IndyCar the same weekend as Lime Rock. That gives us two races in two countries on the same weekend. We will likely have one service trailer and one tire trailer remain in Canada after CTMP to support that race.”
As the 2022 IMSA season progresses, the 2023 season opener at the Rolex 24 will grow larger on Ignacio’s radar screen. His ability to see the big picture and understand the myriad details well in advance and adapt as needed is all about his experience, organization, and communication skills.
“There is no magic, just hundreds and hundreds of details,” said Ignacio.