IRL: Indy 500: Firestone preview

Firestone to make more history at 86th Indianapolis 500. INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2002) - Drama. History. Excitement. Tradition. Pageantry. They all combine to make the annual Indianapolis 500-Mile Race the ultimate event every racecar driver...

Firestone to make more history at 86th Indianapolis 500.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2002) - Drama. History. Excitement. Tradition. Pageantry. They all combine to make the annual Indianapolis 500-Mile Race the ultimate event every racecar driver dreams of winning.

The world-famous contest, universally recognized as "the greatest spectacle in racing," is the place to be Memorial Day weekend, especially if you're a tire maker like Firestone, intent on demonstrating your own performance capabilities.

This May marks the 86th running of the most famous car race in the world, and the Firestone brand is making its 66th appearance in the race, taking aim on its 53rd victory at the storied Brickyard. The total of 52 previous Indy wins is more than have been achieved by all other tire companies competing at Indy combined. Many of Firestone's greatest racing achievements and technological advancements have been achieved on this one-of-a-kind oval, with more certainly to come.

"Harvey Firestone recognized the importance of showcasing the technological superiority of his tires when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened more than 90 years ago, which is why Firestone equipped Ray Harroun's winning car in 1911," said Al Speyer, Executive Motorsports Director at Firestone Racing. "The same holds true for the Firestone brand today. We hold the entire month of May ritual at Indy dear to our hearts. It drives us to continue developing and supplying the best tires these race cars and teams have ever enjoyed."

This indeed will be a monumental month for Firestone, both on and off the track. Beginning with the unprecedented introduction today of the Firehawk Indy 500 tire with UNI-T - the only passenger tire ever authorized by the speedway to wear the famous Indy 500 name and official logo - and right up until Firestone crowns its 53rd race champion May 26, the presence of "America's Tire Since 1900" will never be more visible than in May 2002.

But the greatest example of Firestone's dedication to this race will come in the long, grueling days between the track opening and waving of the checkered flag three weeks later: On those hot, steamy practice afternoons when dozens of cars are logging thousands of laps in the never-ending quest for speed; on those gut-wrenching qualifying days when 33 lucky entrants will push their cars and themselves to the brink to make the field. Throughout the month, these drivers will need tires with amazing grip, durability and consistency. And Firestone will supply them.

"Indianapolis is like no other race because of its unusual extended format," said Speyer. "Teams should have ample opportunity to get their cars up to speed, and with the level of competition what it is this year, they'll need every bit of speed they can find. We could well see the most driver/car combinations in years hit the track before qualifying is complete, and the depth of the entry list is unbelievable. It will be a true accomplishment to make this race."

To aid the teams in this most competitive environment, Firestone has developed a new compound formula for both the left- and right-side tire positions. The new compounds are expected to improve the performance of the Firehawk racing radials that worked so well at Indy last year. The new tire drew rave reviews from teams in the extensive testing conducted at IMS in the past month.

"Since Firestone equips all cars at Indianapolis, we will be there to help every team and driver reach the maximum potential," Speyer added. "The Firehawk racing radials are the one common denominator for all teams, and a comforting factor at that. Drivers rely on the Firestone tires to deliver consistent performance throughout a full stint. It's critical for teams to enjoy that tire durability and consistency from set to set as they strive for speed and balance in practice. Knowing the tires will remain consistent, teams can concentrate on other aspects of car set-up.

"The Firestone tires will also provide the grip necessary for those dramatic qualifying runs to make the show and for passing maneuvers in the race. We're quite confident the Firehawks will contribute to another memorable month of May for racing fans. It certainly will be for us."

FIRESTONE FIREHAWK FAST FACTS

Race distance: 500 miles (200 laps on the 2.5-mile oval).

Tires Supplied This Month: 28 sets of tires per qualified car, more than 4,500 available in all. This tire specification features a new compound formula for both the left and right sides that should match or exceed grip and balance characteristics from the 2001 Firestone tires at Indy.

Stagger sizes available: 2 staggers (approximately 0.36 inches and 0.46 inches). Stagger, derived by making one rear tire slightly larger than the other, helps a car turn more efficiently on ovals.

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Series IndyCar