IRL: Nick Firestone

FIRESTONE'S GREAT GRANDSON GETS HIS "BREAK" Rookie Nick Firestone Sets His Sights on 1999 Indy 500 (Scottsdale, AZ, May 7, 1999) - Every rookie with the determination and skill to succeed knows there that are two things needed to make it to...


Rookie Nick Firestone Sets His Sights on 1999 Indy 500

(Scottsdale, AZ, May 7, 1999) - Every rookie with the determination and skill to succeed knows there that are two things needed to make it to the greatest event in sports, the Indy 500. One is sponsors. The other is a break. Nick Firestone, the 33-year-old great grandson of tire pioneer Harvey S. Firestone, has gotten his big break from Dennis McCormack and the Avon, Indiana-based McCormack Motorsports. Nick will make his debut with Team Losi/Firestone Vineyard/Fast Rod #31 at the 1999 Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fulfilling a lifetime dream, Nick Firestone has set his sights on continuing the Firestone Indy legacy - this time by being the first Firestone family member to qualify for and compete in the 1999 Indy Racing League (IRL) Championship. While his goals are high, Nick Firestone is honored to continue the longstanding tradition of keeping the Firestone name in the winner's circle. From the beginning, the primary showcase for Firestone tire technology was the arena of Indy car racing. Since the first race in 1911, Firestone tires have carried 50 winners across the finish line, including every Indy 500 between 1920 and 1966. "The Firestone name has been in the winner's circle at the Indy 500 more than any other name in the history of the sport. That's why this race is so important," says Nick Firestone. "I have more than my own or McCormack's reputation on the line. I represent more than 80 years of Firestone presence at the Indy 500 which makes this one of the greatest challenges in my entire career - and one that I am ready for." Of the 1999 Rookie Orientation Program, Firestone says, "It was an amazing experience. I was anxious to go back, even after being home a few days. But I knew I needed to temper my enthusiasm with the reality of the job ahead of me. Although I have been training intensively for the past two years, there's a lot of work to be done before the upcoming qualifications." Among those with high hopes for Firestone is McCormack Motorsports' owner Dennis McCormack. A 30-year veteran of professional motorsports, McCormack is no stranger to bringing talented new drivers to the forefront. Past McCormack Motorsports' drivers include two Indy 500 Rookie of the Year drivers and two Indy Car World Series Rookie of the Year drivers. "I have known Nick since his Indy Lights driving days," says Dennis McCormack. "We believe now is the right time for him to make his mark in the racing world and there's no better race than the Indy 500." While the 1989 Princeton University graduate holds a B.A. in history, driving has been in Nick Firestone's blood since he was a toddler. Coached by family friend and 1963 Indy 500 champion Parnelli Jones, Nick's skills have been proven on the track time and again. During his professional career, Nick has competed extensively in International Karting Federation races, in Europe among the world's most competitive drivers in the Opel Lotus Euroseries and British Formula 2, and here in the U.S. in three Firestone Indy Lights Championships. "I've always said I can teach someone to drive, but I can't teach them the desire to win," says Parnelli Jones. "Nick has never given up on his racing dream and now that he's gotten the right opportunity, I plan to be track-side wishing him the best of luck." The Team Losi/Firestone Vineyard/Fast Rod #31 features a G Force chassis made in England, with an Oldsmobile Indy Aurora V8 engine and, of course, Firestone tires. Team sponsors to-date include Firestone Vineyard (also a part of the tire and rubber Firestone family), Team Losi, Fast Rod, Bosch, and Simpson.

NICK FIRESTONE BACKGROUNDER By the age of three, Nick Firestone, 33, caught the professional driving fever. As the great grandson of the tire and rubber company founder Harvey S. Firestone, Nick grew up surrounded and inspired by the sights, sounds and thrills of race competition. A proud descendant of the Firestone racing heritage, Nick is the first family member to race professionally and he has set his sights on the 1999 Indy 500. Nick had come a long way from pretending his bicycle was a racecar and the driveway an oval track by the time he graduated high school. Realizing that education was a priority as much as racing, Nick differentiated himself from other college applicants by building a racecar as part of his application. Accepted to Duke University as well as Princeton, Nick took one year off to race the car he built, retrofitting vans for wheelchair accessibility as a means to cover his racing expenses. While at Princeton, Nick's mentor and coach, 1963 Indy 500 champion Parnelli Jones, urged Firestone to compete in the traditional training ground for the sport's most successful drivers: go-karts. Between 1987 and 1989, Nick accumulated 12 top three finished in 44 starts at the International Karting Federation events. He gained additional experience in selected Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship races in 1988 and 1989. After graduating Princeton in 1989, Nick chose to begin his professional career by racing against the world's most competitive young drivers and headed to Europe. In 1990, he arrived in England to join PTM Motorsports and was named "Most Improved Driver of the Year" during his first full season of racing in the intensely competitive Opel Lotus Euroseries. In 1991, he moved to the Eagle Racing Management (ERM) team and competed in 20 races throughout Europe, winning at Zandvoort, Holland in August. Nick and the ERM team moved up the ranks to compete in the British Formula 2 Championship in 1992. After a promising 4th place finish in his first Formula 2 race, the team ran into financial difficulty, leaving Nick without a ride for the remainder of the season. Undeterred, he returned home to the United States to complete in a full season of Firestone Indy Lights in 1993. The move home proved to be a good one. In three seasons (1993-1995), Nick visited the podium four times while racking up 13 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in 36 starts, including two 2nd place and two fastest race laps. Nick ended the 1993 season on a high note by claiming pole, the fastest race lap, and victory in an Indycar at the inaugural Pro Stock Indycar Association event in Sears Point, CA. Nick switched gears to focus on private business interests over the next couple years, never leaving racing behind. To keep his hand in the game, he spotted for P.J. Jones and trained extensively in a 125cc shifter kart while considering his next racing career move, the Indy 500. Focused on finding a team poised for success, Nick approached his racing career as a full-time job, carefully considering offers from a range of teams and sponsors. Today, Nick Firestone faces both his life-long dream and the greatest test of his professional career: qualifying and competing in the 1999 Indy 500 with McCormack Motorsports' Team Losi/Firestone Vineyard/Fast Rod #31. Instilled with the Firestone entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude, Nick is ready for the challenge.

Name: Nick Firestone Age: 33 Born: March 31, 1966 - Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A. Height/Weight: 6'l", 180 lbs (82 kg) Address: Scottsdale, AZ Personal: Great-grandson of Harvey S. Firestone, founder, Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Wife: Jacqui, son: Peter age 2

EDUCATION 1989: Princeton University, B.A., Department of History. 1984: The Taft School, Watertown, CT

RACING HISTORY The first Firestone family member to race professionally. 1997-98: Built Firestone Motorsports business; trained in 125cc shifter kart; spotter for P.J. Jones 1996-1993: Firestone Indy Lights Championship 2nd Place: Milwaukee '93, Nazareth '93 3rd Place: Toronto '94, Portland '95 4th Place: Vancouver '93, Long Beach '94, Cleveland '94 & `96, Detroit '95 5th Place: Mid Ohio '93 & '94, Detroit '94, Laguna Seca '95 Fastest Lap: Phoenix '93, Nazareth '93 1993: Pro Stock Indycar Association: 1st Place, Pole, Fastest Lap: Sears Point, CA 1992: British Formula 2: 4th Place: Donington Park, England 1991: Dutch Opel Lotus Challenge: 1st Place: Zandvoort, Holland International Opel Lotus Challenge: 8th Place: Nurburgring, Germany Opel Lotus Euroseries: 9th Place: Hockenheim, Germany Opel Lotus Festival 13th Place (70 Cars): Spa, Belgium 1990: Opel Lotus Euroseries: "Most Improved Driver of the Year" USAC Formula 2000 4th Place: Phoenix, AZ (first time in car on oval) 1988-1989: IMSA: Firestone Firehawk Endurance Racing 1987-1989: International Karting Federation: 12 top three finishes in 44 starts 1984-1986: SCORE/HDRA OFF-ROAD RACING: BAJA 1000, 3rd Place, Class 5, 1986 MINT 400, 2nd Place, Class 5, 1985


1991: Bob Bondurant Advanced Driving School, Phoenix, AZ 1990: Jim Russell Advanced Driving School, Laguna Seca, CA Skip Barber 3 Day Competition Course, Willow Springs, CA


Selected in On Track magazine's annual feature, "America's Most Likely To Succeed" 1994 (Honorable Mention 1991 and 1992)

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bob Bondurant , Parnelli Jones , P.J. Jones , Skip Barber