Firestone reveals commemorative tires for 100th Indy 500

Photo: Firestone Racing
2 Comments

Earlier this week, Firestone teased some of its strategies for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

On Friday, Firestone released its special commemorative tire for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, and it’s going to pay tribute to all the drivers who’ve won the ‘500 on Firestones.

Here’s the full release and details:

Celebrating the “100 Days Out” milestone leading to the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500® Mile Race, Firestone today unveiled a special tire honoring the legendary drivers who contributed to the brand’s 66 combined victories at the world’s most renowned race. As the Official Tire of the Indianapolis 500, Firestone has carried more drivers to victory circle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) than all other tire manufacturers combined.

“The Firestone brand solidified its place in motorsports history at the first running of the Indianapolis 500 with driver Ray Harroun. More than a century later, we are honored to celebrate all of the legendary drivers who have taken Firestone to victory circle at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “From the beginning, Harvey Firestone believed in the power of motorsports and the Indianapolis 500 as a showcase for our company’s performance, innovation and technology. That legacy is at the core of everything we do and we are proud to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

The special sidewalls, which feature iconic Firestone-shod drivers like Ray Harroun, the winner of the first Indy 500; Louis Meyer, the first driver to drink milk in victory circle; Mario Andretti, the “driver of the century;” and many more, have been designed to engage and educate both avid and casual fans about the brand’s rich history at IMS. Also displayed on the sidewall is the 100th Running logo and customary Firestone brand markings, including red and white Firestone F-Shield logos. These F-Shields are unique to the Indianapolis 500 tire as the red and white logos are used to identify the right and left race tires, respectively.

“After analyzing data and feedback from some of the world’s greatest drivers during our tire test in August, we decided on a tire specification that is optimized for the most grueling 500 miles in racing,” said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer and manager of race tire development for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “The constant testing and evaluation of our race tires is in keeping with the Firestone brand’s century-long tradition of being the best today, still better tomorrow.”

Firestone used the tire test at IMS in August 2015 to evaluate possible tire specifications for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Using the performance data gleaned, Firestone engineers adjusted the construction and compound on this year’s Firestone Firehawk

Indianapolis 500 race tires to improve driver feel and, in turn, the race experience for fans.

The tires feature an updated right-front construction designed to improve driver confidence in the corners, a softer left-rear construction to add overall grip, and a more heat resistant left-side compound. Firestone will produce more than 5,000 tires featuring the commemorative Indy 500 sidewall, all of which will be used during practice, qualifying and the race.

For decades, racing has served as an ultimate proving ground for Firestone performance and technology. This heritage of performance and innovation has helped the Firestone brand’s on-track success translate to the open road. Firestone Racing’s engineers work side-by-side with the company’s tire engineers to ensure the technological advances developed for the racetrack help the driving public meet the demands of their daily travel. Firestone also ensures that the raw materials, proprietary technology and rigorous testing that go into creating its world-class racing tires are utilized to evaluate and produce the brand’s entire portfolio of passenger, truck, bus and agricultural tires.

Fans can first see the commemorative Firestone Indy 500 race tires in action beginning with practice on Monday, May 16 and during the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29.

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
0 Comments

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”