The IndyCar community was upset when the news came through that Bridgestone Firestone were not going to renew their contract once the contract ended in 2011. IndyCar has been supplied with tires from Firestone since 1996. Negotiations to reach an agreement that both parties were satisfied with took place over a period of a week and a new contract has been finalized that will see Firestone continue to be the tire supplier for IndyCar until 2013.
The thought of bringing in a new tire supplier while trying to launch new cars into the IndyCar racing circuit was a daunting task that was too much to bear for most team owners. They therefore got together as a unit and ask IndyCar to renegotiate with Bridgestone Firestone to see if an agreement could not be reached. Fortunately Firestone was open to discussion and a contract to suit both parties was drawn up.
The new contract will still see Firestone withdraw as a financial sponsor from the IndyCar circuit when the contract expires, and there will be an increase in the price of tires. Al Speyer, the Executive Director of Racing for Bridgestone Firestone, commented: “This was not a negotiation tactic; last Friday, we were done, and I was devastated. But when Randy Bernard called back this week to say the team owners wanted to work something out, we went back to a proposal that had been pre-approved in a way. That made it easier. All we had to do was fine-tune it.”
CEO if IndyCar, Randy Bernard said: “At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organizations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term. This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100 percent behind you. Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input. I’m happy to say we walk as one with Firestone.”
Firestone agreeing to remain the tire supplier until 2013 will give IndyCar the needed time to look for a suitable replacement and to ensure that the transition will take place smoothly. Even though Firestone is withdrawing from IndyCar, Al Speyer is an avid IndyCar supporter and will remain a fan of the sport.