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2019 Petit Le Mans – Did IMSA leave the best for last?

The brand-new Michelin tower which has just opened, is 100 miles up the road from their US headquarters
Michelin is now the track sponsor. Their brand-new tower which has just opened, is 100 miles up the road from their US headquarters in South Carolina

IMSA of course has several Marquee events, including the Daytona 24-hour, Sebring 12-hour, Watkins Glen 6-hour, and the Petit Le Mans. The Petit Le Mans is a hold-over from the ALMS series of Don Panoz in years gone by, and in the years since the merger (Grand-Am series and ALMS), is the last race on the schedule at the end of the season. It is always run over a 10-hour distance at one of the best tracks in the USA, the Road Atlanta Circuit in North Georgia. Michelin who are the IMSA spec tyre, have recently signed as the track sponsor and have made several improvements including a very nice brand-new race control and media tower. The track is about 100 miles from their US headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina, so fits well for them.

A mini IMSA historic reunion at Jack's restaurant in Braselton, Georgia
A mini IMSA historic reunion at Jack’s restaurant in Braselton, Georgia: (from L-R) George Silberman, Roger Bailey, the author, Jack Ansley (Jack being the former crew chief of Bob Akin’s 935 in the early 1980s), Gary Cummings, Mitch Bishop and Mark Raffauf. As someone said, Jack should have paid the poor waitress double for this table!

This year there was added pressure on the teams, as practically all the championships were still up for grabs, both driver and manufacturers. So, going into this 10-hour race with the knowledge that you must deliver, just added stress and pressure! The race started at noon and ran until 22h00 at night. Night at this circuit is very dark, with much of it not well lit at all.

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