NHRA

NHRA makes slight change to 2019 Countdown playoff schedule

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While there will be no changes in race track facilities, the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule will have a slight adjustment, according to the sanctioning body.

The change involves the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff lineup.

While Maple Grove Racetrack near Reading, Pennsylvania, and Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis will remain the kickoff races to the Countdown, the order of the venues of the following two races will change.

Texas Motorplex has historically been the third race of the Countdown and zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina, has been the fourth race. But the 2019 schedule will see those two venues swapped.

In other words, Carolina will be Race No. 3 of the Countdown going forward, while the remaining three races of the playoffs moving from east to west, with Texas (Oct. 17-20, 2019) followed by Las Vegas (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) and the season finale at Pomona, California (Nov. 14-17).

According to a NHRA media release, “The schedule refinement moves the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals to take place after the NHRA Carolina Nationals in order to streamline travel across the country during the Countdown To The Championship.”

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

Michelin
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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”