INDIANAPOLIS – The Firestone brand will remain the exclusive tire to the NTT IndyCar Series and the Official Tire for the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 through 2025, following a five-year partnership extension announced by INDYCAR and Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
Additionally, Bridgestone announced plans to build a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Akron, Ohio, that will serve as the future home of Firestone race tire manufacturing. The Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) will be located across the street from the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center and less than a mile from the Bridgestone Advanced Technology Workshop, where race tires are currently produced. Plans for the ATPC include both new construction and the full renovation of an existing structure.
The histories of Indy car racing and Firestone tires parallel each other. Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 on Firestone tires. Firestone’s 69 wins at “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” including the most recent by Will Power in 2018, are more than twice as many as all other tire manufacturers combined.
“Champions have relied on Firestone tires for more than a century, and racing has always been the ideal proving ground for new technologies that help us evolve and advance our company’s passenger tire offerings,” said Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. “As the NTT IndyCar Series continues gaining momentum, we are introducing new fans to the Firestone brand and strengthening our relationship with the drivers who use our durable, dependable Firestone tires.”
Firestone has more than eight decades of Indy car racing experience and the brand is entering its 20th consecutive season as sole tire supplier to the NTT IndyCar Series. It will produce and deliver more than 26,000 Firehawk race tires to teams this season, including more than 6,000 tires for track activities related to the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
The partnership extension was announced at a special event held in Speedway, Indiana, at the American headquarters for Dallara, producer of the chassis used by all NTT IndyCar Series teams. The ceremony included INDYCAR and Bridgestone leaders, racing legend Mario Andretti and veteran INDYCAR driver and team owner Ed Carpenter. A second event also was held at the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center in Akron with two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
“Firestone has long been a great INDYCAR partner and is making a huge investment to the NTT IndyCar Series with its new facility in Akron,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “This extension also reflects Firestone’s commitment to helping to shape INDYCAR’s paddock-wide, five-year plan.”
The new ATPC will continue a legacy of tire manufacturing in Akron that began with the founding of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1900. A team of expert tire builders and manufacturing professionals at the Advanced Technology Workshop keeps that tradition alive through the production of more than 60 unique race tire specifications for the NTT IndyCar Series season. All race tire manufacturing will move to the new facility over the next four years, and early plans are for the site to produce its first Firestone Firehawk race tires for testing in the NTT IndyCar Series by the end of 2020.
“I started driving on Firestone tires 55 years ago, and they were on my car for the 1969 Indianapolis 500 when I took the checkered flag,” Andretti said. “The trust I have always placed in Firestone was cemented that day 50 years ago when I drove on the same right rear tire for the whole race – and it never let me down. Firestone has always been a dependable partner, and I am excited to see its partnership with INDYCAR continue into the future.”
In addition to providing tire technology and on-track support, Firestone will continue to be a key partner in the marketing and promotion of the NTT IndyCar Series. The brand’s comprehensive, season-long activation includes fan engagement, sponsorships and signage at multiple venues. Firestone is title sponsor of two events on the 2019 schedule, the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10 and season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 22.