Barbieri reflects on his final race for Firestone

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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.

Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)