Firestone, sole tire supplier to the Izod IndyCar Series for a decade, has signed on for another five years.
Firestone, owned by Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone, nearly gave up its IndyCar association, announcing it wanted to leave the series in 2011. Then-IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard convinced the tire supplier to stay on through 2014 by offering nearly twice the money Firestone was then receiving.
Bernard then began shopping around for a new tire supplier and nearly signed a deal with Continental Tires, to start in 2015. (This contract discussion might have been the immediate cause for Bernard’s hasty “resignation.”)
In any case, Firestone has agreed to remain IndyCar’s tire supplier through 2018, and to do more to promote and support the series.
“Firestone performance and safety have been synonymous with Indy car racing for more than 100 years,” Firestone Racing executive director Al Speyer told IndyCar.com. “We are excited about the opportunity to continue the ongoing success of this series by extending the Firestone brand’s history in the sport through the 2018 season.
“We treasure the relationships we have fostered with the league, drivers, owners and various other partners involved with the sport through the years, and look forward to continuing our legacy of high performance for which Firestone tires are known.”
Firestone will remain the Official Tire of the Indianapolis 500, and will add the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to its “Official Tire Supplier” list. Firestone will continue as the title sponsor of the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway in June and might also take on title sponsorship of other races on the IndyCar schedule.
“The Firestone brand’s significant contributions to Izod IndyCar Series racing are the result of more than 100 years of experience competing in this sport, most recently as part of a continuous 22-year partnership,” said Jeff Belskus, interim president and CEO of IndyCar.
“The agreement expands our opportunity to continue working together to provide on-track excitement for our fans and grow the sport through coordinated and consistent off-track promotions. This is an important relationship for both Firestone and IndyCar and we are very pleased to continue the association.
“The expanded agreement begins in 2014, and includes tires and technical support, investments in advertising, event promotions, at-track signage, hospitality, race title sponsorships and other programs. Specific details of the agreement and relationship will be announced next year.”
Firestone also sponsors and supplies tires for the Indy lights series, part of the Road to Indy development ladder. Firestone will continue in this capacity through the 2013 season.
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