INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 14, 2012)—Indy Racing League and Bridgestone Americas have extended through 2014 the contract making Firestone the official tire of the IZOD IndyCar Series, and officials are negotiating an extension beyond 2014.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and Firestone Racing Executive Director Al Speyer announced the extension jointly during the Feb. 13 State of IndyCar conference in Indianapolis. Financial terms of the contract extension—which includes extending Firestone's sponsorship of and race tire supply to the Firestone Indy Lights series through this season—were not disclosed.
The contract extension represents an about-face from Bridgestone's position in March 2011, when the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker was prepared to end its 11-year run as the IndyCar Series' spec tire supplier. The company reversed its position that same month after intense negotiations with IndyCar officials and team owners, agreeing to continue supplying tires through the 2013 season.
The Firestone brand has competed in every IndyCar Series race since the series' inception in 1996, and it has been the official tire and sole race tire since 2000.
“As the IZOD IndyCar Series ushers in a new era of competition in 2012 and beyond with the new Dallara DW12 and engine diversity, Firestone Racing is pleased to continue supplying our world-class racing tires to each and every car on the grid for at least the next three years,” Speyer said.
Neither Bernard nor Speyer commented on the status of the Indy Lights Series beyond this year. Bridgestone last March told IRL officials it would end supply to and support of the Indy Lights at the end of the 2011 season but has since reconsidered, but for only one more season.
Firestone will continue to support the series through broadcast, digital and print advertising; at-track hospitality sites; title sponsorship of the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway; and official tire designation at events, Speyer said. The new agreement also provides Firestone with an enhanced presence at the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Village at each race.
The 15-race 2012 IndyCar Series starts March 25 on the street circuit at St. Petersburg, Fla., and ends Sept. 15 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.