Joe Barbieri’s tenure of more than 40 years with Firestone, and in his tenth as manager of motorsports for the company, comes to an end this weekend in St. Petersburg.
Long regarded as one of the two faces of Bridgestone and Firestone’s motorsports efforts in North America along with executive director Al Speyer, Barbieri has his last race this weekend.
“It really is hard to describe,” he told MotorSports Talk on Friday. “I have mixed emotions. I’m looking forward to all the plans in the future, but I’m really going to miss this place. I believe I have one of the best jobs in this business. People say I’m crazy to give it up, but it’s been a great ride.”
Barbieri recalled some of his favorite moments from his racing career, beginning when Firestone re-entered North American open-wheel racing and the PPG IndyCar Series in 1995.
“I guess one of the best, or worst, was the first year we came in 1995 when we almost won the Indianapolis 500,” said Barbieri, who was a project supervisor at that time. “We still won two races (oval races at Michigan and Loudon, N.H. with Scott Pruett and Andre Ribeiro, respectively). Then in 1996 and ’97, to come back and win the Indianapolis 500 was absolutely wonderful.”
An Akron, Ohio native, Barbieri began his career with the company in 1972. He has been involved in the Bridgestone Motorsport and Firestone Racing programs since 1987 and has served as a project supervisor since 1994.
Barbieri’s role as manager, motorsports for Bridgestone Americas will be taken by Rodreich Von Stotsenburg, or Rod for short.
IndyCar will hold a reception for Barbieri Saturday evening in the paddock.