For more than two years, a collection of executives and engineers from NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, Goodyear and IMSA worked to execute NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France’s vision to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The atmosphere was as expected – an estimated 300,000 excited and energized fans descended on the small central France city of Le Mans Saturday for the 100th celebration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car classic.
In so many ways, Friday’s annual Grande Parade Des Pilotes through the historic streets of Le Mans could not have been more appropriate or telling for the NASCAR 56 operation.
After a celebrated eight-year career as a crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Alex Bowman, Greg Ives stepped away from the position fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of last season.
Hendrick Motorsports executive Chad Knaus, who served as crew chief for Johnson’s seven-NASCAR Cup Series championship seasons has joined Ives leading the technical side of the Le Mans venture.
Less than a week removed from his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, IMSA champion Jordan Taylor flew straight from Portland, Oregon to Paris – a stop in Salt Lake City – then a three-hour car drive to Le Mans.
The room was packed, the smiles flashing and the vibe all-good.
Of all the motorsports legends roaming around Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe this week – and there are many – one in particular received an exceedingly warm welcome by the NASCAR Garage 56 team.