FORT WORTH, Texas-Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has renewed its association with the Indy Racing League for the next four seasons, making Firestone the sole tire brand for the IRL, the Indianapolis 500 and the newly created Infiniti Indy Pro Series, a ``driver development series'' that debuts next year.
Firestone has been the IRL's 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, BFS executive vice president and president of the company's U.S. Consumer Tire Group.
The desire to continue in the IRL and the Indianapolis 500 ``emphasizes our company's commitment to strengthen Firestone,'' he added.
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, said Al Speyer, BFS's motorsports director. As part of its continuing relationship with the IRL, Firestone will use the series to investigate new technologies, provide training for its engineers and to strengthen its marketing programs.
The IRL also had discussed the contract with Goodyear recently, but instead chose to continue with Firestone. Neither the IRL nor BFS commented on the value of the contract.