The team for the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Garage 56 car has been announced.
It will be Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller and Jenson Button, who will race the modified Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR for the 24-hour classic.
It is no surprise that we see Johnson and Rockenfeller onboard the car. Johnson is still a huge name in NASCAR, and will be making his comeback in the sport this year, after two seasons of NTT IndyCar Series, in addition to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Johnson has never competed in the 24 hours race in France.
Mike Rockenfeller made his NASCAR debut in 2022, racing on several road courses, while he skipped the oval rounds. He won the race overall with Audi Sport in 2010 with their LMP1 car, but had a huge accident one year later, when he collided with a GTE car, on one of the fastest parts of the track. The German was lucky to avoid serious injuries, but had to rest for a bit. He was also active in DTM, and when he won that in 2013, he main focus changed to running in that series, instead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It is a slightly bigger surprise, that Button will be in the car. He previously participated in the 24 hours race in 2018, where he was part of the SMP Racing LMP1 outfit. He didn’t see the chequered flag in that race. The Formula 1 World Champion from 2009 has tried several things in the sport since then, including starting his own Extreme E team, and competing in electric offroad racing.
Jordan Taylor will be the reserve driver, plus driving coaching in regards to the Le Mans circuit, and just sportscar racing in general.
The Garage 56 outfit is run as a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, which is the big Chevrolet team in NASCAR, but also IMSA, where John Doonan will be working as team principal – a role that he already did prior to his current job, being the boss of Mazda Motorsports, competing in IMSA for several years.
Prior to the big race, there will be more testing and development done, on top of all the miles that already have been covered.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run on 10-11 June 2023.