Firestone has announced today that they will continue to be the exclusive tyre supplier for the NTT IndyCar Series after signing a five-year contract extension with the series.
The deal will see Firestone tyres continue to be used on every IndyCar on the grid until at least 2025. The upcoming 2019 season will be the twentieth consecutive year that Firestone has been the exclusive supplier for the championship.
The announcement was made today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where IndyCar and Firestone representatives were joined by former champion and racing legend Mario Andretti as well as current driver and team owner Ed Carpenter.
Philip Dobbs, the chief marketing officer for Bridgestone Americas Tyre Operations, the parent company of Firestone, reiterated the long history between the tyre manufacturer and the championship; with Firestone tyres being used all the way back at the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 by race winner Ray Harroun.
“Champions have relied on Firestone tyres 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 Dobbs. “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 tyres.”
In addition today’s contract extension news, Firestone also announced that they will be building a new tyre manufacturing facility in Akron, Ohio. The Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) will become the home of racing tyre production as early as 2020, with IndyCar testing to take place not long after tyres have left the production line.
“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 at today’s press conference. “This extension also reflects Firestone’s commitment to helping to shape INDYCAR’s paddock-wide, five-year plan.”
Firestone received a glowing endorsement from Mario Andretti in today’s conference, with the seventy-eight-year-old commenting on the trust he had in the brand, having relied on their tyres throughout his illustrious career.
“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 tyre 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.”
NTT IndyCar driver and team owner Ed Carpenter also stated how happy he was to see Firestone remaining as the exclusive tyre supplier. Rumours of a second IndyCar tyre supplier have circulated numerous times over the last few years, but many drivers have stated that they would prefer for the series to remain without a tyre-war so that they can concentrate entirely on the racing.
Firestone will also serve as title sponsors for a number of races this year. Both the season-opener at St. Petersburg and the season-finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will be sponsored by the company.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first round of the seventeen-race 2019 NTT IndyCar Series, will take place on Sunday, March 10.