Some 11 years have passed since Michelin last raced on The Raceway at Belle Isle Park on August 30, 2008. A lot has changed in that time.

The start of the 2008 ALMS race in Detroit, Michelin’s most recent visit to The Raceway on Belle Isle. Photo: Michelin North America

The American Le Mans Series race was held on Labor Day weekend rather than the weekend after Memorial Day. Additionally, the race ran on a different course configuration. The 28-car field featured Michelin racing in the same event with four other tire brands.

Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (12:30 p.m. EDT, NBCSN and IMSA Radio) will feature a 23-car field with all cars racing with Michelin.

The 2008 LMP2 and overall podium included one past Indianapolis 500 winner (Gil de Ferran) and one future one (his de Ferran Motorsports teammate Simon Pagenaud). Photo: Michelin North America

Andretti Green Racing scored the overall victory with its LMP2 class Acura ARX-01B. Franck Montagny and James Rossiter shared the car. The top six finishers in the race were all from the LMP2 class.

Acura swept the podium overall and in class, with the Patron Highcroft and de Ferran cars finishing second and third.

The de Ferran lineup included Simon Pagenaud, in his first full season of sports car racing, alongside his mentor, co-driver and team principal Gil de Ferran. Pagenaud would eventually switch to Highcroft once de Ferran’s team left sports cars and focused on Indy cars.

Pagenaud comes to Detroit this weekend fresh after a month of May sweep in Indy cars driving for Roger Penske. He scored his first Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday. He’s also maintained his part-time sports car presence as a third driver in one of the Acura Team Penske ARX-05s both last year and this year at Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.

Porsche’s No. 7 RS Spyder won in 2007 but was unable to repeat in 2008. Photo: Michelin North America

The three Acuras finished in front of three Porsche RS Spyders, with the two Penske Porsches ahead of a Dyson Porsche.

Michelin also claimed victories in both GT classes. Corvette Racing swept to another of its GT1 wins with Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. Flying Lizard Porsche won the GT2 class with Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler.


Eleven years later, only four teams that competed in that race still race in IMSA in 2019. Only Team Penske is here this weekend, with its Acura DPi.

GT Le Mans class competitors Corvette and Risi Competizione are both testing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend. Black Swan Racing, which raced in the GT Daytona class at Daytona, also remains active on a part-time basis.

Among drivers, just Patrick Long remains active for this weekend. He raced in a Penske Porsche RS Spyder then, and he races in the Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 R now.

There are nearly a dozen GT and/or Michelin Endurance Cup drivers still active today who raced back then. But they are either racing the Indy car races in Detroit (Pagenaud) or testing at Le Mans on Sunday (the GT contingent).


The Michelin Detroit Belle Isle Event Card for the race is linked here.


May 31, 2019