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.
Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto