SBD/January 5, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Firestone Reportedly Might Not Return As '12 IndyCar Supplier

Firestone is in final year of deal as the sole tire provider of IndyCar Series
Firestone “could be leaving” the Izod IndyCar Series following the '11 season after serving as the series' "sole tire provider" since '02, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Firestone is in “the final year of its IndyCar contract,” and a Dec. 31 deadline "to extend the deal beyond 2011 passed.” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard yesterday acknowledged that “he is ‘definitely concerned’ even though negotiations continue.” Neither Bernard nor Bridgestone Americas Motorsports Exec Dir Al Speyer “would reveal particulars of the discussions, but it's believed to be tied to” Firestone’s overall marketing objectives. Speyer: "We have to look and compare all of our options, and motor sports is one of the many options out there. Maybe there are too many (options)." Speyer said that there is “no deadline for a decision, although IndyCar needs to know if it needs another tire manufacturer.” Cavin notes Firestone's interest in withdrawing is said to have "blindsided" IndyCar officials. Firestone “not only has an impeccable safety record in IndyCar, it is a strong promoter of the sport through race sponsorships and media buys.” If Firestone departs, “any manufacturer of tires will be considered, including Goodyear, Michelin, Cooper and Pirelli” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/5).
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