INDIANAPOLIS — One week after announcing it would leave the IZOD IndyCar Series when its contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, Firestone and IndyCar have announced the only tire manufacturer in the history of the series will return to the series through the 2013 campaign.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC and IndyCar jointly announced March 4 they would allow the Firestone sponsorship and supply contract to expire at the end of the 2011 season.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard explained how things changed so drastically in one week.
“At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organizations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term,” said Bernard. “This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100 percent behind you. Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input. I’m happy to say we walk as one with Firestone.
“We feel that this new supply agreement will benefit everyone. It provides a proven safe and reliable Firestone product for the transition to the all-new cars for 2012. We have to thank everyone at Firestone for working with us to help ensure the best for the long-term growth of our sport,” Bernard concluded.
The team owners presented a united front and played a key role in the reversal.
“IndyCar called a meeting to inform the team owners of Firestone’s departure,” said Dennis Reinbold, owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. “When we learned of this, we encouraged IndyCar to check with Firestone to see if there might be any chance to continue. We feel that it is important to maintain continuity with their excellent tires as we transition to the new car for 2012. The team owners are collectively very relieved that Firestone had an open mind and that they were able to reach this agreement with IndyCar. Firestone racing tires are not only important from a safety and reliability standpoint, but they contribute greatly to the wheel-to-wheel competition for which our sport is famous.”
Firestone has supplied tires to the IZOD IndyCar Series since 1996. The new agreement does not include Firestone Indy Lights, the developmental series for drivers and teams striving to reach the top level of open-wheel racing in North America. Firestone will remain as title sponsor and tire supplier of the development series through 2011.
“We are pleased that we were able to reach this agreement with IndyCar,” said Al Speyer, executive director, Firestone Racing. “As we prepare to celebrate our involvement in the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, we are also focused on the future and the great opportunities that lie ahead. While we’ve reached the pinnacle of success in the IndyCar racing, we’re happy to extend our relationship with the IZOD IndyCar Series through 2013, and to continue our winning partnership. Meanwhile, we will continue to evaluate all options for promoting the Firestone brand inside and outside of motorsports, as the Firestone brand is a very important part of our business.”