The technology and know-how built into its tires is expensive to acquire, and Michelin guards its trade secrets carefully.
“If they X-ray or cut apart one of our tires, they can know exactly what is in there,” said Mammone. At the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, which celebrates its 61st edition on March 16, Michelin will bring 3,000 tires in a fleet of semi-trucks. Each team using Michelin tires must account for every single tire, and they even employ staff to guard their tire stockpiles. The tires have individual bar codes affixed as well as imprinted into them, and a file on each tire says, for instance, that it is for the right/front of a specific car.
“We have not lost a single tire in the 12 years I’ve been in this job,” Mammone said with a smile. “If a tire is missing, we go into DEFCON 3 and shut the whole place down — all exits — until we find the tire, and then that team can no longer be on Michelin.”
And in the case of a crash or other incident that destroys a tire: every piece of that tire is collected and put in a “tire body bag” and returned to Michelin. All of the corner monitors know the Michelin drill and see to it that all of the pieces are collected.
After the race, all of the tires that were used are sent to Michelin’s engineering facility in Greenville, South Carolina, where they are cut apart and examined. If questions remain, some tires may even be sent to Michelin’s main engineering campus in Ladoux, France.