Michelin is set for its largest-ever motorsports operation this week, in supporting nearly 140 cars across four series and 12 categories competing at Sebring International Raceway.
The French tire giant, which has become the Official Tire of IMSA, will supply the entire grids in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Michelin Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge series, in addition to 31 of the 34 cars competing in the 1000 Miles of Sebring FIA World Endurance Championship race.
It’s resulted in a massive presence for Michelin, which has more than 16,000 tires and processing equipment on site inside a 24,000 sq. ft. tent that separates the IMSA and WEC paddocks.
All tires, fitted with RFID chips, are inventoried and categorized in assigned slots inside the expansive, warehouse-style tent.
“It’s roughly double the amount of tires that we have at Le Mans,” Michelin North America Motorsports technical director Ken Payne told Sportscar365. “We do a similar thing there, where it’s in a warehouse.
“It is probably the biggest we’ve ever had worldwide for motorsports.
“We’re not officially saying that but Chris [Baker, North America motorsports director] and I cannot come up with any event that have been bigger than this.”
Construction of the tent began late last month, prior to the arrival of the IMSA and WEC-spec tires by the truck and boat-load.
A total of 21 transporters trucked in the majority of the tires, while nine 40-foot maritime containers were sea-freighted from Europe for the weekend.
It comes in addition to Michelin’s three engineering support trailers and five additional equipment trailers, all coordinated by its longtime North American partner Jackson Motorsports.
Payne said the makeup of its staff is similar to January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with 55 engineers and motorsport tire specialists and 42 tire-fitting technicians on-site, in addition to WEC-specific support staff from France.
However, all tires are mounted by Michelin’s Greenville, S.C.-based staff.
“If you look at the track time, we essentially have a 24-hour race if you roll it all together between the Challenge races, the 12-hour and the 1000-mile,” Payne said.
While previously having joint IMSA and WEC events at Circuit of The Americas, Payne said Michelin’s setup differed slightly, both in size and tire processing.
All tires at COTA were mounted in a common area but the inventory of tires remained in seperate trailers instead of a tent.
Additionally, Michelin had only a limited number of WeatherTech Championship teams at the time, competing in the GT Le Mans class, compared to the entire IMSA grids this time around.
Michelin estimates that more than 100,000 miles will be completed by the WEC, WeatherTech Championship, Pilot Challenge and IPC competitors this weekend.