A first glance at KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering might not reveal much to the untrained eye. A closer look, however, will show team members that have been in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for years.
Going on 30 years as business partners, Louis Milone and Kevin Wheeler are emerging from a supporting role at the race track to now competing under their own banner with a new two-car, full-season Alfa Romeo program in the TCR class.
In 1994, five years after their partnership began, Milone and Wheeler embarked on their first professional race together in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. From 2000 to 2008, they were contracted to run Champion Racing with Audi across multiple series before joining Rebel Rock Racing in the Michelin Pilot Challenge in 2014.
The following three years, Milone supported longtime friend and RS1 Team Owner Justin Bellinzoni with his Porsche program. This past season, Milone and KMW served as engineers on two of Compass Racing’s Audi RS3 LMS racecars in TCR, one of which would go on to win the championship.
Following a long history with Audi, Milone described how he landed the Alfa Romeos for the team’s “first” season.
“There were two of them here in America already,” said Milone. “I knew the guy who had them. They were sitting around doing nothing because he just couldn’t get anybody to rent them. I had a pack of drivers ready to go.”
Both Alfa Romeos were onsite at Daytona International Speedway for the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 4 – 6, with Roy Block and Tim Lewis, Jr. making laps around the World Center of Racing. The driver lineup for the second car will be revealed in the coming days, but one thing is clear – KMW and Alfa Romeo are serious about their participation in the Michelin Pilot Challenge.
“The level of support that we’ve gotten from Alfa Romeo has been overwhelming and I feel like we’re the full factory team,” said Milone. “The owner of the car (Romeo Ferraris, from Milan, Italy) and his lead engineer have come to every event so far. I’m sure once we’re established in the season they won’t come to every single event.”
Milone also talked about how the TCR class was another good decision for KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering, especially with his vision for driver lineups.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with the bronze-level driver, the guy that’s just stepping up from club racing and wants to go pro racing,” said Milone. “I like to work with that guy. I like to see what I can do with him, what we can do as a team to build things.”
With so many new beginnings – team, car, drivers – under one tent, Milone has learned to adjust his expectations and goals for the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
“I’m not expecting to win the championship,” Milone said. “I’m not setting it as the ultimate goal. It’s always a goal, but it’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to represent the brand well, look professional.”