NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 14, 2012) — Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports at Bridgestone Americas, will retire next year, capping a 38-year career with Bridgestone and Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
Mr. Speyer began his tire industry career in 1974 with Firestone Tire after graduating from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. By the early 1980s he was firmly ensconced in the firm's motorsports department, where he went on to work in a variety of racing competition, from stock cars to sports cars, drag racing, Formula 1 and IndyCar.
Among his more notable achievements was overseeing the company's return to top-flight motorsports in 1996 after a 20-year hiatus. He was was tapped that year to manage the return of the Firestone brand to open-wheel racing (the Indy Racing League), and under his management, the Firestone racing program quickly moved from new kid on the block to series champion.
"Al Speyer was instrumental in managing our motorsports programs for the past 30 years," said Phillip Dobbs, chief marketing officer, Consumer Tire Sales division, Bridgestone Americas.
"When we began supporting the Indy Racing League again in 1996, Al helped lead Firestone back to a premier position in IndyCar Racing.
"We will miss Al tremendously, but we look forward to building upon the great legacy he leaves behind."
Mr. Speyer called his career in motorsports a "dream come true.
"I will be forever grateful to the company for the opportunities I've enjoyed and thankful to all of the individuals who have counseled and supported me in so many ways," he said, noting he's looking forward to spending time with his wife Jane, son Erik and friends.
In 1992, shortly after Bridgestone Corp. acquired Firestone, Mr. Speyer was named manager of motorsports for Bridgestone/Firestone, the merged company's North American entity. The following year, the company announced it would end its 20-year hiatus from the top forms of open-wheel racing.
Mr. Speyer was promoted to director of motorsports at that time and in 2001 was named executive director of motorsports. In addition to directing the company's open-wheel programs, he also directed its motorcycle and karting activities, managing all aspects of the company's motorsports activities, including marketing and promotional activities.
Bridgestone has not named a replacement.