INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2011)—Izod IndyCar Series team owners apparently are not taking no for an answer as it relates to the series' future tire supply, voting at a meeting this week to seek renewed talks with Firestone race-tire supplier Bridgestone Americas.
Because no replacement supplier was immediately evident since Bridgestone told IndyCar March 4 it would end its supply contract after this season, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard sought guidance from team owners.
He said they needed to be unified in their support for the tire manufacturer, and they apparently are.
The series and its team owners want Firestone to return for at least the 2012 season, when IndyCar debuts a new chassis and engine formula. Tony Cotman, IndyCar's point man on the new cars, has said a familiar tire manufacturer is critical to testing and developing the new machine ahead of its racing debut next season.
Al Speyer, the executive director for Bridgestone Firestone, said he is flattered by the support of the team owners, but he fears the company's decision might not be reversible.
“I guess now with the team owners getting more actively involved, I would never say never (about returning), but things like this aren't easy to (change),” he said. “The decision was partly about us taking a different direction (in our marketing efforts).”
No matter what happens, IndyCar needs an answer quickly. Initial testing of the new car is expected to begin in July.
Various daily and trade media outlets have reported in the past few days that IndyCar has approached Goodyear, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. to gauge their interest in the supply contract.