NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2012) — Bridgestone Americas' Firestone brand will remain the sole tire supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series through the 2018 race season, continuing a partnership between the two entities that began in 1996.
The announcement confirms the Firestone brand's participation in the 100th running of the prestigious Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, taking place in 2016. As part of the partnership extension, Bridgestone said it will increase its commitment to and investments in the series to help maximize growth potential.
The expanded agreement begins in 2014 and includes tires and technical support, investments in advertising, event promotions, at-track signage, hospitality, race title sponsorships and other programs, Bridgestone said. Specific details of the agreement and relationship will be announced next year. Firestone's title sponsorship and official tire status of the Firestone Indy Lights Series will run through 2013.
"Our partnership with the IZOD IndyCar Series is based on mutual respect and benefit to all parties," said Al Speyer, executive director, Firestone Racing. "Our agreement to move forward together is a manifestation of the business value we both realize from this partnership as well as the legacy of safety and performance that we have built together over a century of experience.
"We are proud to continue our tradition of exceptional support for the IndyCar Series. One of our future aims is to help grow interest, so we look forward to welcoming a new generation of fans to the sport while at the same time energizing the existing loyal fan base."
IndyCar reportedly contacted Continental Tire the Americas about replacing Firestone, according to a report in Autoweek magazine, but that "drew the ire" of the series' teams, which cited Firestone's "sparkling safety record."
Firestone Racing will go into the 2014 season with a new, as-yet unnamed director of motorsports. Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports at Bridgestone Americas, is retiring next year, capping a 38-year career with Bridgestone and Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
The IZOD IndyCar Series 2013 schedule includes 16 tracks with "double-header" races at Belle Isle Park in Detroit; in Toronto, Canada; and at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas.
In addition to the partnership with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone brand will be the official tire of the race season kick-off, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. In addition, Firestone will remain the Official Tire of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and will continue as the title sponsor of the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway in June.