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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta - IMSA Petit Le Mans


Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta

5300 Winder Hwy

Braselton, GA 30517



Year Opened: 1970

Capacity: 10,000

 

10 Hours of Action in Georgia

Petit Le Mans has become a cult classic event in the sportscar world. For 10 hours, the best in sports car racing battle it out in a thrilling multi-class endurance race through the hills of northern Georgia. Nestled an hour north of Atlanta, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta offers some iconic sights and non-stop racing action over four days in the fall. And, being the season finale for multiple IMSA series, the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Packed with fans, this track offers plenty of great viewing areas and camping, helping Petit Le Mans to rise quickly as one of the best events of the year for fans.


Food & Beverage 3

There aren’t a lot of concessions stands at this track; one lies in the outer paddock behind the Michelin Tower. Here you can find burgers ($6.99), patty melts ($7.99), hot dogs ($6.99), chicken tenders ($8.99), and more standard fare. Fries ($3.99) and drinks (soda, water, beer, and energy drinks) are also offered. Another concessions stand is located in the infield near the Turn 5 area, and various food trucks populate the fan zone midway.


Atmosphere 5

The event is like many in IMSA’s endurance schedule – three days of support races, as well as practice sessions for the main event, fill the entire slate at Road Atlanta from sunrise to well past sunset. Fans have access to both paddocks with their event ticket, allowing you to get up close to all the drivers and cars in between track sessions.


On Saturday the cars roll out to the front stretch and grid up to their starting positions. Driver intros take place and fans can walk the grid freely, getting up close to cars, meeting their favorite drivers, and snagging some free swag from some of the teams.


When the race starts, fireworks explode as the roar of engines fills the air. What follows is 10 hours of non-stop race action into the night. When it is all said and done, the season finale podium takes place in the lower paddock. As the cool fall air takes over, the glow of rotors becomes the dominant light source, the smell of campfires wafts through the trees, and the roar of fans heightens the excitement.


Taking all the best things that make Sebring 12 Hours a great event and removing the chaos and craziness that dilute its family friendliness, Petit Le Mans easily supplants Sebring as the best party on the IMSA schedule. Just beware of the numerous spiders around the property in practically every tree and bush.


Neighborhood 3

The main downside to Road Atlanta is its location. An hour north of Atlanta proper, this track isn’t near much. Aside from a few small hotels and fast foot locations a few miles down the road, Road Atlanta is very much dominated by rolling hills, suburbs, and farmland. A 15-minute drive south gets you to Buford and the big Mall of Georgia where you can find plentiful hotels and restaurants. Also nearby is Chateau Elan resort and golf course for a more high-level resort experience; recreation can also be found outdoors at nearby Lanier.


Fans 5

The fans at Petit Le Mans are some of the most diehards in all of sportscar racing. A much more family-friendly atmosphere than Sebring, many here know how to party, but do so in a respectful way that doesn’t cross over into outrageous. The viewing areas and grandstands are always packed in every corner on race day. Many have been camping here at the track for decades during various race weekends. Without a doubt, some of IMSA’s best fans show up to Road Atlanta year after year, and the crowd only grows with each passing season.


Access 5

To get to Road Atlanta, Exit 129 on I-85 or Exit 17 on I-985 will both get you to the track in the most direct manner – being located equidistant between these two interstate exits means getting in and out is easy. Once at the track, parking is plentiful, and the facility also offers a tram that takes fans around the track to various viewing areas.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Petit Le Mans are solidly priced for an IMSA endurance round. Kids 12 and under are free, and weekend tickets start at $150. Parking in the infield in various locations comes at an additional price, but considering you get paddock access to all events and free range to all trackside grandstands and viewing areas, the value offered at this event is right up there with the best on-track action in IMSA.


Extras 3

The event includes autograph sessions throughout for all fans to attend for various series in attendance, completely included in the price of admission. Being an endurance race also means you get to see night racing, somewhat of a novelty. Finally, the fan midway offers various sponsor displays and interactive activations that offer plenty of giveaways.


Final Thoughts

If you want to experience endurance racing at its best, don’t want to stay up for 24 hours, and prefer a more family-friendly atmosphere compared to Sebring, Petit Le Mans is without a doubt the best event for you. Located at an exciting track with great weather in the fall, Road Atlanta always is a must-visit on every race fan’s list.

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