IRL: Firestone celebrates special anniversary

Firestone Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Return to Open-Wheel Racing CHICAGO, Ill. (February 11, 2005) -- Since 1909, Firestone has been supplying tires for competition in virtually all the top forms of auto racing, and this season the company...

Firestone Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Return to Open-Wheel Racing

CHICAGO, Ill. (February 11, 2005) -- Since 1909, Firestone has been supplying tires for competition in virtually all the top forms of auto racing, and this season the company will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its return to open-wheel racing.

The first Firestone tires appeared in competition at the Indianapolis 300 on a car driven by Barney Oldfield, and just two years later the company made history when the inaugural Indianapolis 500 was won by Ray Harroun driving on Firestone tires. In all, Firestone-equipped drivers have amassed 55 wins in the Indy 500 despite the tire maker's 20-year absence from the top forms of auto racing from 1975 to 1994. The Firestone brand returned to the track at the 1995 Grand Prix of Miami on March 5, 1995, quickly returning to form and re-establishing itself as the tire of choice for some of the fastest and most competitive auto racers in the world.

Since then, Firestone-equipped drivers have collected 188 victories in major open-wheel racing competition, and 14 series championships. Historically, Firestone-equipped drivers have recorded 1,532 documented wins and 102 driver's championships in major racing series through the 2004 racing season.

In 2004, Tony Kanaan became the most recent Firestone-equipped champion when, en route to the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series championship, he became the first driver in major American motorsports history to complete every lap of every race of the season.

"The quality that goes into Firestone tires is pretty easy to understand by just looking at the number of laps we completed this year - all 3,305 - and we never had a problem. Not one," said Kanaan. "That is unbelievable. But, as amazing as that is, I'm really not that surprised because Firestone just makes tires that are that good."

As the 2005 season approaches, the Firestone Racing team prepares to enter its 10th season of competition in the IRL. Since its last competitor withdrew from competition following the 1999 season, Firestone has been the sole supplier to the league, and since 2002 has served as the Official Tire of both the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The 2005 season will see some marked changes for both the league and its tire manufacturer, as the IRL will introduce road- and street-course racing to its schedule for the first time. That change will be reflected in new tire specifications specifically designed for road and street courses, as well as in the rain tires that Firestone must now supply for those events.

"Like everyone else, we're excited about the addition of road and street courses to this year's schedule," said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT). "There are certainly some changes on the horizon for us in terms of what tires we'll bring to the track for each event, but our company has a rich history of producing quality tires for road-course competition, so we're confident that the transition will be seamless for us and that we'll be able to provide the best tires possible for these drivers right from the start."

After being named the Indy Racing League's Marketing Partner of the Year in 2004, Firestone will continue its strong association with the IRL, where, in addition to being the sole tire supplier, the company takes on a strong sponsorship role and is a trusted partner with the league in marketing, advertising and promotional activities. For the fourth consecutive season, Firestone will be the title sponsor of the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, which will take place July 16. Firestone will also be title sponsor for the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway on July 31. In addition, Firestone will serve as the official tire and associate sponsor of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the IRL's first-ever street-course race, which will take place April 3.

Nashville-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world's largest tire and rubber company. BFNT develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and associate and private brand tires. The company is focused on wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off-road, agricultural and other tires to its customers in North America.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Other open wheel
Drivers Tony Kanaan