By Barry Janoff
February 14, 2012: With the 2012 auto racing seasons fast approaching, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations has signed a deal that keeps its Firestone brand aligned with Indycar as the IZOD IndyCar Series' official tire through "at least" 2014.
In addition, Firestone will remain as title sponsor and official tire to Firestone Indy Lights through the 2012 season. Bridgestone said that "negotiations are already underway to extend the IZOD IndyCar Series sponsorship and supply contract beyond 2014."
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Separately, IndyCar has entered into multi-year agreements with Discover Network and First Bankcard, a division of the First National Bank of Omaha, to offer a credit card program designed to provide rewards to fans of the sport.
Firestone will support its role as the official ire of IndyCar through TV, digital and print advertising; at-track hospitality; title sponsorship of the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway; and official tire designation at events. Firestone adds with the new deal an enhanced presence at the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Village, an interactive experience for spectators at race events.
The Firestone brand has competed in every IZOD IndyCar Series race since the series' inception in 1996, and it has been the official tire and sole supplier since 2000, according to Bridgestone.
"Our company has actively supported IndyCar with more than just race tires, and we'll continue to remain highly visible through our promotional activities and marketing initiatives around the series," Al Speyer, executive director, Firestone Racing, said in a statement. "It has been great to have the support of Indycar and the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams throughout this process as we have extended our long-term, successful partnership for the second time in one year."
In March, 2011, BATO and Indycar agreed on a two-year extension that secured Firestone's official tire status for the 2012 and 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series seasons. The Firestone Indy Lights contract was set to expire at the end of 2011, but included in the new agreement is a provision for Firestone to continue as the official tire of the development series for an additional year.
"As the IZOD IndyCar Series ushers in a new era of competition in 2012 and beyond with the new Dallara DW12 and engine diversity, Firestone Racing is pleased to continue supplying our world-class racing tires to each and every car on the grid for at least the next three years," said Speyer. "And, as we look to identify the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series stars, Firestone Indy Lights drivers will continue to hone their craft on Firestone Firehawk race tires for another season.
According to Randy Bernard, CEO for Indycar, "Firestone continues to be a great fit for our sport, carrying on a 100-year-old tradition that began at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When our new car takes its first competitive laps on the streets of St. Petersburg in March, all of our drivers will take great pride in knowing that they have a reliable tire designed to maximize performance."
Regarding the deal with Discover, there will be two card designs for card members to choose from: a vintage look highlighting the start of the 1960 Indianapolis 500 and a modern look featuring the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car.
“With this agreement, Discover is able to help the premier open-wheel auto racing series in North America reach their fan base in a new, rewarding way,” Kevin O’Donnell, vp-credit issuance at Discover, said in a statement. “The IndyCar Discover credit card is designed to help drive card member loyalty by offering tailored card benefits and exclusive access to events that card members care about most.”