We saw this coming a few months back, but Firestone made it official last Friday: the tire manufacturer is pulling out of the IndyCar series at the end of the 2011 season. The company has a long history in American open wheel racing, dating back to the earliest days of the Indianapolis 500. Firestone has been part of CART / IndyCar since 1995, so this year marks their sixteenth consecutive year of competition. Fans of Firestone tires are quick to point out that the brand has a perfect safety record in IndyCar competition, with no failures related to tire construction or performance. They’ve certainly contributed quite a bit of marketing and promotion to the series, something another manufacturer may have a hard time matching.
As for other manufacturers, it looks like Cooper, Continental, Hoosier and Goodyear are all interested in the IndyCar series, so I’d expect serious tire testing in between this season’s races. In other professional series, Hoosier actually supplies tires under the Continental brand name, but IndyCar may be the perfect venue for the racing specialty tire manufacturer to build a presence for themselves.