NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bridgestone Americas Inc., the designated supplier of race tires to the NTT IndyCar series, will supply its guayule-based Firestone Firehawk race tire as the alternate tire on the series' five "street" races this year.
The first such race is the season opener March 5, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.). The tires are marked with a green band on the sidewall.
While the news may be a footnote on the scorecard, it represents a genuine look into the future of how the tire industry may wean itself off natural rubber in favor of a more sustainable solution, Bridgestone said.
Bridgestone has been developing commercial uses for rubber derived from guayule, a woody desert shrub, for 11 years and has invested more than $100 million. The company has a processing and research center in Mesa, Ariz., and a 281-acre guayule farm in Eloy, Ariz.
Guayule is part of Bridgestone's plan for carbon neutrality and to make tires from 100% sustainable materials by 2050. The company is targeting commercial production of guayule-derived natural rubber by the end of the decade.
"We are driving sustainability in every area of our business, and we're thrilled to be advancing guayule and other sustainable practices in America's premier open-wheel racing series," Paolo Ferrari, CEO of Bridgestone Americas, said. "Firestone has a tremendous legacy of innovation and performance in racing, which we will continue to build upon as we move into this new era of cleaner, safer and more sustainable mobility on and off the track."