By Holly Cain, IMSA Wire Service
BRASELTON, Ga. – There was important news on a beautiful Fall afternoon at Road Atlanta as the iconic Michelin tire brand officially announced it had secured the naming rights for the track. Beginning in 2019 it will be known as Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
It is a significant and strategic move for the tire company and a big boost for the nearly 50-year old facility that will host Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.
“This is the first time globally that Michelin will have naming rights with a race circuit,’’ said Scott Clark, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “Road Atlanta — as an iconic racetrack with a rich history and a natural link to the Michelin heritage of global endurance racing — provides us with a tremendous opportunity to engage with our partners and consumers.”
Michelin executives, IMSA executives and track officials joined together trackside for the announcement between practice and qualifying for Saturday’s race. There was also news of some substantial infrastructure improvements to the scenic road course, located an hour northeast of Atlanta and 100 miles south of Michelin’s North American headquarters in Greenville, S.C.
Road Atlanta President Geoff Lee was all smiles during the formal presentation, referring to the new partnership and the upgrades to come as “epic.’’
He spoke about the other major sporting venues in the Atlanta area – stadiums and arenas for the Atlanta Falcons (National Football League), Braves (Major League Baseball), and Hawks (National Basketball Association) that have in some cases been completely rebuilt and upgraded a handful of times in the 49 years that Road Atlanta has existed mostly “as is.”
“Not only are we now Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta beginning in 2019, you’re going to see many things coming forward in the next few months as we prepared to rebrand the entire facility,’’ Lee said.
“But what this has enabled is allowed us to look at it a multiyear plan going forward of improvements at Road Atlanta.”
Lee unveiled a photo showing a new four-story building to be called the “Michelin Tower” that will have suites, a state-of-the-art media center and a dining facility plus vast rooftop views of the picturesque 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course below on the gently rolling hills of North Georgia.
“Michelin’s and Road Atlanta’s histories intersect at so many points that it would be impossible to separate them, and this partnership will solidify that bond,’’ Lee said. “To have such a forward-thinking partner in Michelin has afforded even more stability to this top-rated international destination — stability that will be noticeable to fans, teams, clients and more. We are beyond thrilled to become Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in 2019.”