LAUSITZ, Germany (Sept. 13, 2001) - Throughout its illustrious and unmatched history, the Firestone Racing program has chalked up thousands of victories on countless racetracks around the globe. With the Championship Auto Racing Teams series ...
LAUSITZ, Germany (Sept. 13, 2001) - Throughout its illustrious and unmatched history, the Firestone Racing program has chalked up thousands of victories on countless racetracks around the globe. With the Championship Auto Racing Teams series venturing to Europe for the first time, Firestone is prepared to add two more venues to that impressive list.
First up is Eurospeedway and the German 500 this weekend, followed Sept. 20-22 by the Rockingham 500 at Rockingham Speedway in the United Kingdom. While this is the FedEx Championship Series' debut in Europe, it is hardly the first time Firestone has raced and won in major open-wheel competition on European soil.
In fact, the last time Champ cars competed in Europe, at Monza, Italy, in 1957 and '58, Firestone was the winning tire in every race. On June 29, 1957, four Champ car races were conducted at the legendary Monza facility, with Jimmy Bryan winning three times and Troy Ruttman once. A year later, Jim Rathmann swept all four races. All three drivers would win Indianapolis 500s - Ruttman in '52, Bryan in '58 and Rathmann in '60 - and all three drove to victory at both Monza and Indy on Firestone tires.
More recently, Firestone was a driving force on the Formula One circuit, guiding Graham Hill (1968), Jochen Rindt ('70) and Emerson Fittipaldi ('72) to world championships. Firestone was the winning tire in a number of German F-1 races, the last by Jackie Ickx on the Nurburgring circuit still utilized by F-1 today.
"Firestone has a strong history and deep appreciation for European racing," said Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director, "so we are pleased to take our sensational race tires back 'over the pond' with the FedEx Championship Series. The two new ovals will provide fans in Germany and the United Kingdom a sensational chance to share in the excitement of Champ car racing up close. Everyone at Firestone is as excited about the opportunity to showcase oval racing and our product as the local fans appear to be to witness it."
Firestone engineers have been meticulous in their selection of tires to produce and ship to Europe for both races. The engineering group went so far as to conduct, in conjunction with CART and Dale Coyne Racing, a test last month at both venues to determine the perfect compound and construction combination for each track. The test resulted in a slight change in the compound originally selected for Germany by computer modeling. The improved version features a more durable compound for the right-side tires without any loss of grip.
"It's tremendously difficult for a tire supplier to go to a new track without any advance testing and be spot on with the tire selection," Speyer said. "Our engineers were extremely close with their original selection, but the August test allowed them to fine-tune it and come back with a tire that should again promote exciting racing. Since the Firestone Firehawks will be on every competitor, the tires should give everyone a solid baseline for a strong weekend.
"We're looking forward to what we hope is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between CART and its European tracks."