In conjunction with Earth Day on Friday, IndyCar and Bridgestone announced a set of environmental efforts to reduce the NTT IndyCar Series‘ carbon footprint, most notably the introduction of a new Firestone Firehawk tyre made from guayule that will begin racing usage at the Music City Grand Prix in August as the alternates.
Unlike the traditional alternate tyre (softer than the primary), which is differentiated with a red sidewall, the guayule tyre will be marked in green. Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is a type of woody shrub found in desert areas like the southwestern United States and Mexico, and can be easily farmed using existing technology. Its abundance in the wild, especially in a country where IndyCar is located, makes it a more environmentally friendly option for rubber than standard rubber extracts that are drawn overseas. As a result, the plant has seen use for other purposes in place of usual rubber sources, such as hypoallergenic gloves and biofuel.
Bridgestone’s investment into pursuing guayule began in 2012 with a research center in Mesa, Arizona. This evolved into a guayule farm in nearby Eloy and producing the first guayule tyre in 2015. The company aims to make tyres strictly from renewable materials by 2050.
“The introduction of guayule natural rubber to America’s preeminent open-wheel racing series speaks to the confidence we have in the technology and its promise as a scalable, sustainable and domestic source of our industry’s most vital raw material,” commented Bridgestone Americas, Inc. chief technology officer Nizar Trigui. “It will take partnership and collaboration to combat the impacts of global climate change and we are proud to partner with Penske, IndyCar, and IMS to advance the future of sustainable mobility.”
The metaphorical and literal green tyre will make its début as part of the Pit Stop Challenge on Indianapolis 500 Carb Day on 27 May. 7 August’s Music City Grand Prix in Nashville will see its first use in racing action. IndyCar intends to make the 500 the most environmentally sustainable event in its history, which will begin by delivering tyres for the race via electric trucks courtesy of Penske Truck Leasing and Shell. Renewable diesel haulers will be used to transport cars beginning with the Detroit Grand Prix in June.
“The NTT IndyCar Series and its partners are continually evaluating ways to lower our footprint and create a more sustainable future,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye. “We’re looking forward to using renewable diesel in our transporters beginning in June and expect to have several more important initiatives to unveil in the near future.”
Firestone is contracted as IndyCar’s exclusive tyre supplier through 2025.