LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Oct. 31, 2001)—Cars competing in the 2002 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series will run on Bridgestone Potenza racing radials, instead of Firestone Firehawk, according to Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., which cited the CART series' increasing international flavor—four or five races outside of North America—for its decision.
“Since CART has evolved into an international program and the Bridgestone brand is involved with international racing, we believe CART and Bridgestone make a perfect match,” said Shu Ishibishi, president of BFS' U.S. Consumer Tire Group, in a prepared statement.
“We're confident using Bridgestone tires in this demanding series in 2002 will reinforce the brand and complement Bridgestone's exposure in Formula 1,” Mr. Ishibashi said.
CART's 2002 schedule includes international races in Australia, England, Germany and Japan, along with two races each in Canada and Mexico. A race in Brazil is still tentative.
With the Firestone brand set for the next four years in the expanding Indy Racing League, BFS executives thought the time was ripe to bring the Bridgestone brand into the racing mix to gain greater exposure for both brands, a company spokesman said. CART will have up to 20 races next year and the IRL 15.
The IRL series races exclusively on oval courses in the U.S. and includes the Indy 500, considered one of the single-most watched sporting events in the U.S. in any given year. The IRL also will start a developmental league next year, the Infiniti Pro Series, which will feature the Firehawk tire name.
With the exception of one race, the superspeedway event at Fontana, Calif,. the Bridgestone Potenza racing radials will be built at BFS' Akron technical center. The tires for Fontana and some selected IRL superspeedway events will be built at Bridgestone Corp.'s technical center in Tokyo, BFS said.
BFS will support the debut of the Potenza in U.S. racing with a marketing program that includes advertising and drive-and-learn events using CART drivers, Mr. Ishibashi said.
“CART is unique in that it races on oval tracks in dry conditions and on road and street courses when it's raining or dry,” Mr. Ishibashi said. “CART will provide a great showplace to reinforce our message about Bridgestone's advanced technology to vehicle manufacturers, independent tire dealers, our own retail stores and, ultimately, consumers.”
In addition to competing in CART and Formula One in 2002, the Bridgestone brand will be seen in a number of other series around the world, including international and U.S. motorcycle competition, sedan racing in Europe, Asia and Australia, and go kart racing in numerous regional, national and international series.