NASHVILLE, Tenn.Bridgestone Americas' Firestone brand is celebrating its 15th season as the official tire of the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 and, in addition, will continue its entitlement and official tire sponsorships at several races this year.
The 2016 season kicks off March 13 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, marking Firestone's third year as title sponsor of the race. For the seventh consecutive season, race fans can look to the Firestone 600taking place June 11for some of most exciting oval racing on the schedule, Bridgestone said.
The Firestone brand also has official tire designations at the inaugural Grand Prix of Boston, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Memorial Day weekend, marking a historic milestone as Firestone will crown its 67th winnermore Indy 500 victories than all other tire manufactures combinedat the iconic race, according to the company.
The 2016 season will be a historic one for Firestone as we celebrate the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race and the 67th winner on Firestone tires, said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports.
Our passion for performance, innovation and technology is evident in our rich history and the fact that we have more Indy 500 wins than all other tire manufacturers on the planet combined.
In 2015, IndyCar introduced aero bodywork kits developed by Honda Motor Co. and General Motor Co.'s Chevrolet brand, and the next evolution of kits are scheduled to launch in 2016. With these new aero improvements in mind, Firestone Racing said its off-season development efforts have centered on ensuring its tires are optimized for use with the aero kits.
Firestone Racing has focused our race tire development efforts on determining tire specifications for the series' return to Phoenix International Raceway (April 2) and Road America (June 26), while preparing for the inaugural Grand Prix of Boston street race, said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer and manager of race tire development for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports.
In total, Firestone will produce 64 different specifications of tires for the 16-race 2016 schedule, all developed and built by our team of engineers, chemists and technicians at the company's Americas Technical Center and Advanced Technology Workshop in Akron.
In addition, May will mark the introduction of Firestone's next generation of Indy 500 race tires, Bridgestone said, which will include a special sidewall tribute to the brand's legacy of winning at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Off the track, Firestone said it will continue its comprehensive, 360-degree approach to engaging fans, dealers and other key stakeholders. The integrated marketing program includes public relations, advertising, social media, digital and grassroots marketing efforts in every race market, according to the company.
One of the pillars of Firestone Racing's program is the interactive Firestone Experience display, which is highlighted by experiences and events that tell the Firestone brand story and educate fans about three new Firestone tires that will debut this year. The Firestone Experience will continue to include fan-focused activities like branded games, augmented reality displays and an airbrushed tattoo station, while adding new elements like a racing simulator and enhanced social media engagement areas.
Firestone Complete Auto Care representatives also will be onsite, supporting the IndyCar360 program at retail locations in local race markets.
For the third year, the tire maker will host the Firestone Legend's Day Concert, taking place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the night before the Indy 500. Plans are still in development.
Race fans can keep up with Firestone Racing and the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season by following @FirestoneRacing on Twitter and Instagram and by visiting FirestoneRacing.com.