FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 8, 2001)—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has renewed its association with the Indy Racing League for the next three seasons, making Firestone the sole tire brand for the IRL Northern Light Series and for the Infiniti Indy Pro Series, a “driver development series” that debuts next year.
Firestone has been the series' sole supplier starting with the 2000 season, after Goodyear suspended its tire program for open-wheel racing series.
The continuing relationship with the Indy Racing League "underscores our strong commitment to the Firestone brand, to maintaining its historical place in motorsports, and to building enhanced consumer confidence in our tires,” said Shu Ishibashi, executive vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone and president of the company´s U.S. Consumer Tire Group.
“Our desire to continue in the IRL and the Indianapolis 500 emphasizes our company´s commitment to strengthen Firestone,” Mr. Ishibashi said. “We felt there was no better place to showcase the brand known as ´America´s tire since 1900´ than at the greatest American race, the Indianapolis 500.”
The IRL's decision to renew Firestone was based on BFS providing an integrated package of print and television advertising as well as tire supply and support, according to Al Speyer, BFS's motorsports director.
The IRL also had discussed the contract with Goodyear recently, but instead chose to continue with Firestone.
Tony George, IRL president and CEO, said the IRL wanted a single tire supplier “for safety and cost-control benefits.” Mr. George also lauded BFS for its role as a “promotional partner,” helping the IRL boost its visibility not only at the showcase Indianapolis 500, but at other events across the U.S. as well.
The new Infiniti Pro Series, featuring a single “spec” chassis and Infiniti engines, will run under the Firehawk Cup banner. BFS will supply Firestone Firehawk racing radials to both the IRL and Indy Pro Series competitions.
Neither party commented on the value of the contract.