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SBD/March 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
IndyCar Owners Opt For Known Commodity In Deciding To Retain Firestone
Published March 14, 2011
HAPPY TO STAY TOGETHER: IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti said, "They got all the owners to agree on something and to agree on something that is going to cost them money, so it must be important. To the drivers, it was a no-brainer. We all knew what we wanted" (SI.com, 3/14). Franchitti added, "I can't overstate the confidence we have in Firestone running the speeds we do at Indianapolis and Texas. We never think about tire failure, it's not part of our thought process and they are just a great partner." SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller noted though the price is "likely to double from $278,000 to $550,000 in 2012, the owners were unanimous in their support of staying with Firestone." Bernard said of the old deal, "It was my job to negotiate as hard as we could and we let it expire because it wasn’t in the best interests of our teams. And it wasn’t that the owners didn’t want another manufacturer as much as it was the fact there wasn’t enough time to build a tire like Firestone’s. So we had a meeting and they all agreed that we need a successful tire with our new car and they were unanimous in wanting to stay with Firestone." Bridgestone Firestone Racing Exec Dir Al Speyer: "There were a lot of late nights and lots of details to work out and I’m a little surprised it got done this fast. But I think it’s a good day for us and a good day for Indy car racing." Miller noted Speyer "imagines his company will continue to provide marketing and promotional support" for the Indy Lights series after this season, "although probably not to the extent it is today" (SPEEDTV.com, 3/11). Speyer said Bridgestone and IndyCar engaged in "intense team efforts" to reach an agreement. He also noted that Bridgestone Americas CEO & President Gary Garfield "became involved" in the talks. In Ohio, Jim Mackinnon noted employees who "make Bridgestone's Firestone brand race tires in Akron will have jobs through the fall of 2013," though Speyer said that "there still could be some job reductions in Akron caused by the decision not to supply the Indy Lights series after the current season ends" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/12).