As a New Yorker I will take any opportunity to head South or West in the middle of winter. When Michelin offered to send me/FLATSIXES.com both South AND West, in the middle of January, my bag was packed before I finished reserving flights. The first session of the PS4S launch had near-perfect weather, which served as an ideal background for the wide array of cars and venues served up by Michelin for the event. Here is an inside look at the festivities at the Thermal Club and Joshua Tree.
We posted this 991 GT3 on Instagram not long after I finished my ride along with Mike Miller. What wasn't apparent from our photo was the astonishing amount of media coverage provided by Vice for the event. Vice Media arrived with numerous media teams photographing and filming everything from candids to videos. Unless otherwise noted all of the photos in this article come from Vice, who were nice enough to provide us with a personalized media package.
Though some Porsches were present, the event was not defined by them. The Autocross and Track Driving segments at the Thermal Club both featured BMWs. The autocross, which featured a wet ~210 degree first turn, utilized the BMW 340i...
... While the roadcourse segment used BMW M4s.
I admit, it is very unusual for me to have a microphone in front of me. For some of the guests at the Michelin Pilot Experience this was probably much more like a day at the office.
After a few moments it was sorted out that this person was actually Porsche-builder-extraordinaire Rod Emory, and not photographer Mo Satarzadeh.
We had good company on the street tour segment, including Keanu Reeves and Arch Motorcycles co-founder Gard Hollinger.
Each evening began with a large reception, which was staged around a selection of cars and artifacts from Michelin's past. Where, but a Michelin event, are attendees going to geek out over long obsolete tires?
The receptions were littered with cool cars, including the "Malibu" Singer 911 and a Koenigsegg. A few of my photos of the Singer are attached in the clickable gallery.
Racing legend Justin Bell acted as MC for each evening's festivities. The first night included a panel discussion with Tommy Milner, Kuno Wittmer, Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger.
"1992 was my first year at Le Mans, and it was my only year in a Porsche. It was a 962, and it was very obvious that the 962's era was coming to a close. Obviously Porsche was a big part of my life because of dad. I remember my first out-lap. I had goose pimples. I came back in after my first stint, and went to Tiff Needell 'It was extraordinary.' He thought I was just being young and naïve, but it really was extraordinary." -Justin Bell. In fairness to him, this was written down just after we spoke. It was awesome to meet such a legend at the #michelinpilotexperience. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me, @justinbelltv!
Justin was nice enough to step aside an speak to me about his first experience at Le Mans with me. 1992 was Justin's only appearance at the event in a Porsche.
Michelin being Michelin, this event was not just about the cars. Food was provided by newly Michelin-Starred Chef Michael Tusk.
While getting face-time with the Michelin Man is not required for a Michelin Star, it is recommended.
Michelin could not have asked for better weather or a better venue to launch the new Pilot Sport 4S. This whole experience was a wonderful way to show that the best UHP tire on the market can just keep getting better.
[Photos courtesy of Vice Media except where noted]