Thaze Competition Earns Podium Finish in Michelin Pilot Challenge Race
By Tony DiZinno
DETROIT – You only get one chance to make a first impression. For Thaze Competition by MC Squared, that impression was delivered in style on the streets of Detroit.
The outfit based in Birmingham, Michigan, announced plans in the fall of 2022 to compete in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge this season, bringing a fresh look, outfit, perspective and feel to the Grand Sport (GS) class paddock.
In its announcement, the team said it modeled its approach off the Trackhouse Racing effort in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by multi-time IMSA race winner Justin Marks. Beyond putting together the car, the team also sought to implement advanced strength and conditioning, mental and physical fitness, nutrition and media training for its efforts, all while bringing fun and entertainment to the paddock.
A debut didn’t materialize until Detroit, in part to ensure all elements of the program were ready to go after limited testing with its striking, dark green and gold No. 78 Mercedes-AMG GT GT4.
Team principal Faisal Ahmad, a Detroit-based businessman, coordinated with partner and fellow team principal Brian Makse on the details.
“We wanted to represent Detroit properly when we got here,” Makse explained. “We had everything in place.”
Ahmad added, “How cool is it for us to be on the streets of Detroit?”
Sports car veteran Marc Miller of nearby Holland, Michigan, and Richmond, Ontario’s Michael DiMeo were up for the task.
Perhaps fortuitously, this debut occurred at a new track where none of the 21 other competitors had experience and only a smattering had any street course racing experience.
DiMeo qualified sixth, which became fifth on the grid for Saturday’s 100-minute Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Challenge when another car in front was found out of compliance in post-qualifying technical inspection.
The Canadian had a rocky start with a brief fall to eighth, but recovered back to his grid position before handing over to Miller when the 30-minute minimum drive time elapsed and the pit window opened.
“I stayed patient, kept the car underneath me, tried to pick them off one by one and keep my lap times as fast as possible because I didn’t want the leaders to disappear,” said DiMeo.
An impressive pit stop saw Miller net out second once the pit cycle was complete and restart there following the race’s lone full-course caution.
While Miller lost a spot to eventual winner Daniel Morad, he hounded Stevan McAleer for the remainder of the race but didn’t press the issue to ensure a podium finish was achieved.
Emotion took over for Miller, a favorite within the Michelin Pilot Challenge paddock known for his grit, determination and work ethic throughout his career. Some podiums mean more, and for the hometown driver competing for the hometown team in the Motor City, there was an overflow of positivity.
“It’s a hometown team, I’m a Michigan driver and this is the Detroit Grand Prix. Does it get any better?” Miller said.
“Michael did a great job and the guys made a flawless pit stop – and we’ve only had one day together before Friday so we haven’t had much time to practice! I’m standing on the podium at the Detroit Grand Prix and I’m really going to savor every moment.”
The emotion spread from Miller and DiMeo to the rest of the team and its associated crew, family and fans; several dozen were present split between the backdrops of the Detroit River and the GM Renaissance Center podium. The bubbly made as many rounds as the team did with hugs and celebration to commemorate the podium.
“I know I’m a fan of the sport and generally, this doesn’t happen. It’s just incredible.” Makse reflected.
“It’s all soaking in. One thing, it didn’t happen by luck,” Ahmad added.
Beyond Detroit, Thaze Competition will participate in more races this season. While the specifics haven’t been announced yet, there is a clear plan to build on the success.
“We’ve got some plans in the works,” Makse said. “It’s a bit of adventure, but the focus is IMSA for the rest of the year. We’ve done our jobs and made a proper debut.”
“We put together an amazing team of drivers, crew and engineers, all with all the support of Detroit, and we really felt it. That’s why we’re here,” Ahmad confirmed.
(Photo below courtesy of Thaze Competition by MC Squared)