Bridgestone’s Firestone brand is going to be the exclusive tire supplier and Official Tire for the NTT IndyCar® Series for at least another five years as Bridgestone and INDYCAR announce that they’ve signed an extension to their contract.
The contract extension maintains Firestone as the Official Tire of the Indianapolis 500®. Bridgestone also announced that they will build a new plant to support this contract extension. The company has been the exclusive tire supplier for IndyCar since 1996.
New High-Tech Manufacturing Facility to Be Built Near Current Akron, Ohio Research Center
Bridgestone already has a technical center located in Akron, Ohio. Bridgestone announced that they will build a new plant near this facility in conjunction with the contract extension announcement. The plant will replace the current race-tire unit occupying the original Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Plant One building. The new contract enables Firestone to remain the exclusive tire to the IndyCar® Series through the 2025 season.
The new plant, the Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Facility, will be a cutting-edge facility co-located next to the existing tire-testing facility, only a few blocks to the east of the Bridgestone-Firestone Americas Technical Center that’s been in South Akron for seven years. Bridgestone Americas Motorsports Chief Engineer says that production could start at the facility as early as 2020, but that the project is scheduled to be completed in about four years.
The size of the investment in the facility hasn’t yet been announced by the company, though they did say that the plant “would accommodate 50 workers now employed in race tire manufacturing” and that employment there could grow along with increased prototype tire production. The race tire unit occupies 100,000 square feet of the old Firestone factory, although the company could move production elsewhere due to their current lease with the city expiring this year.
Chief Technology Officer Nizar Trigui told reporters that their decision reflects the company’s Akron heritage. He said: “The Akron community and race tire development have each played significant roles in our company’s past, and they will continue to drive innovation for us in the future.”
President of IndyCar Jay Frye praised Bridgestone for what he called a “huge investment” in racing, telling reporters, “This extension reflects Firestone’s commitment to helping to shape IndyCar’s paddock wide five year plan.”