SBD/March 9, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

IndyCar Owners Nearly Unanimously Vote To Keep Firestone, No Matter The Cost

IndyCar CEO plans to meet with Firestone next week to discuss staying in series
An open forum meeting among IndyCar team owners Monday "resulted in a near-unanimous vote to stick with Firestone -- regardless of the price" -- despite the fact Firestone last week announced that it "would no longer compete in the Izod IndyCar Series following the 2011 season," according to Robin Miller of SPEEDTV.com. Conquest Racing Owner Eric Bachelart said, "We all want to keep running with Firestone. We know those people; we trust their product and we have to save the deal. They are the best partner ever and we can't afford to lose them so we're hoping they'll review their decision." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard "called the meeting to get feedback from the guys who spend the money." Bernard: "The owners are concerned there isn't enough time to find a new company to develop a tire so they want to go back and get Firestone." Miller reported Bernard "plans to meet" with Bridgestone Firestone Racing Exec Dir Al Speyer "next week at the open test" at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham. Firestone's "tire lease for 2011 is expected to be in the neighborhood of $300,000 but it's believed Firestone might charge as much as $550,000 to stick around for 2012." However, team owners could be "willing to step up and swallow the extra costs if it means holding onto Firestone's record for safety and trackside support." Bernard "has been talking with Goodyear, Hoosier and Cooper and all indicated the start-up costs would be pricey" (SPEEDTV.com, 3/8).

NEW DIRECTION? Goodyear VP/PR & Communications for North American Tire Ed Markey said that company officials are "having 'internal discussions' regarding supplying tires for IndyCar but no decisions have been made." Markey said the company's "focus is on NASCAR" and other motorsports with which Goodyear already has a relationship. He added that Goodyear "does not want to take on new business that would jeopardize its relationships with current customers" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/8).
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