WKA: Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports add motorcycles and go-kart programs

Nashville-based tire manufacturer Bridgestone/Firestone is blending its extremely successful U.S.-based open-wheel racing program and its motorcycle and go-kart tire sales efforts into one operation. Drivers and riders on Bridgestone, Firestone...

Nashville-based tire manufacturer Bridgestone/Firestone is blending its extremely successful U.S.-based open-wheel racing program and its motorcycle and go-kart tire sales efforts into one operation. Drivers and riders on Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brand tires have collected top honors in their respective areas of competition in recent years, and this reorganization of resources will allow that success to continue into the new millennium, said Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director Al Speyer.

"At the majority of prestigious open-wheel, motorcycle or go-kart races in the last few years, drivers on Bridgestone and Firestone tires were the ones standing on the winner's podium, holding trophies and flashing big grins," Speyer said. "We decided to consolidate these winning programs to achieve several benefits, the most important being an enhancement of the driver career ladder development system, hopefully making it easier for more youngsters to achieve their dreams of competing in the top forms of motorsports."

With the move, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorcycle and Go-Kart Motorsports program manager Bob Graham will report to Speyer.

"Bob and his staff have done a tremendous job managing our motorcycle and go-kart programs," Speyer said. "I'm looking forward to working more closely with Bob and his team, sharing resources, ideas and enthusiasm to keep all our racing and sales programs in top form. We also share an excitement for a career ladder development system that will allow more youngsters to explore and develop their racing skills."

Speyer says similar systems have been in place for many years in others sports, including baseball, football, soccer and basketball, but that motorsports has been deemed out of reach for many children.

"If you look at the resumes of the top open-wheel drivers around the world, you'll find many started their careers in go-karts or motorcycles," Speyer said. "Unfortunately, cost and availability of equipment and facilities bar many aspiring young drivers and riders from exploring their potential. We're going to look for ways to remove these obstacles, and with the support of the racing community, we believe we can help more young people start their racing careers earlier. We want to explore not just opportunities for drivers and riders, but for other potential motorsports-related careers, including mechanics, team management, graphics, marketing, public relations and others. Racing is now a very healthy, family-oriented activity, with enormous potential to grow and become even more appealing. We plan to stay in the front of this growth and appeal."

The new structure will not change tires used in various competitions.

Firestone Firehawks will continue to be used in the Championship Auto Racing Teams and Indy Racing Northern Light Series competition, Dayton tires in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Bridgestone tires in the American Motorcycle Association Motocross and Supercross championships, and a mixture of Bridgestone and Firestone tires in go-kart competitions including FIA Formula Super A, SuperKarts USA, the International Karting Federation, the World Karting Association and several others.

While the Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports program will be involved with the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis, the Formula One program will continue to be headquartered in Great Britain and will continue to use Bridgestone Potenza racing radials.

"Every form of motorsports has its own unique fan base, but there are common bonds among all racing enthusiasts," Speyer said. "Those include an appreciation for the steadily improving technology that keeps racing so exciting, and a love of the competitive nature that drives us all. By combining these unique activities under one management, we will let more fans know about our technological capabilities and the quality of our tires. At present, we feel some race fans may not realize how strong we are in so many different competitions where our tires are used. We plan to change that, emphasizing our accomplishments on many types of tracks, in many kinds of weather, with a diverse mixture of wheeled vehicles.

"We believe our restructuring will also demonstrate our commitment to be a leader in motorsports, seeking improvements benefiting fans and participants," Speyer added. "This will allow us to bring the synergy of many great racing efforts into one powerful force - a force that will making racing more accessible and more exciting in the future."

Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is the largest subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world's largest tire and rubber company.

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Series AMA , Kart