Firestone and the IZOD IndyCar series today announced an extension of their agreement through the 2013 season.
This is fabulous news for the sport.
Earlier this year, Firestone had announced that the 2011 season would be their last as the exclusive tire supplier for the series. The tire situation has been one of the many topics in this very busy offseason for the series. The driver and team changes were among the biggest and the schedule the next, but the tire issue was a bigger one than most people would think.
Team owner Dennis Reinbold said owners were unanimous in urging Bernard to reopen negotiations with Firestone.
Firestone has supplied tires to the IndyCar series since 1996. The new agreement does not include the Firestone Indy Lights developmental series beyond 2011. Last week the companies announced that they would allow the Firestone sponsorship and supply contract to expire at the end of the 2011 season.
Firestone tires are manufactured in Akron, Ohio, and the decision likely will affect almost 50 hourly workers and 20 salaried employees. The Firestone brand has been associated with racing since 1911 when its tires were on the winning car of the inaugural Indianapolis 500.
There had been much speculation as to which manufacturer would replace the longtime company as the official tire carrier of the sport. Though many companies were being looked at, it looks like those talks will be on hold.
The IZOD IndyCar series' season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 25-27. Teams are participating in an open test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on March 14-15.