NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 7, 2011)—Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations will stop supplying the IndyCar Series and its companion Firestone Indy Lights racing series with Firestone racing tires at the end of this season.
The IndyCar Series already is “actively engaged in discussions with other tire manufacturers on opportunities to get involved in our sport as we prepare to debut our new car in 2012,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, referring to a new chassis and engine formula that takes force next season.
Bridgestone said the decision was reached mutually with IndyCar. The issue's been up in the air since early January after Bridgestone failed to notify the series by the Dec. 31 deadline of its intention to continue the supply contract beyond 2011.
Bridgestone did not comment on possible other racing ventures it might pursue or whether this means no motorsports activities in North America after this season. The Japanese tire maker ended its role as the sole tire supplier of the international Formula 1 series after the 2010 season.
Firestone has been the series' sole tire supplier for the past 11 seasons, following Goodyear's decision to bow out of the open-wheel racing after the 1999 season. Before that it competed with Goodyear for five years both in IndyCar's predecessor Indy Racing League and the competing Championship Auto Racing Teams series.
“During our long history in racing we have met or exceeded all of our motorsports goals,” said Al Speyer, executive director, Firestone Racing, in a prepared statement.
“So now it's time to set new goals — for ourselves and our brands. à The Firestone brand has been, is now and will be an extremely important part of our business. We're very excited about our future prospects to grow the Firestone brand.”
The Firestone brand has competed in IndyCar-style racing for more than 60 seasons since its debut at the Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1911. Firestone tires have carried 62 of the Indy 500 winners since then to victory, Bridgestone said.
Bridgestone Americas makes Firestone racing tires at its R&D center in Akron.