With the 105th running of Indianapolis 500 set for the upcoming Memorial weekend, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports invited the media to a virtual walkthrough of the Firestone Garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Cara Adams, director of race tire engineering and manufacturing, hosted the virtual tour and interview with Hélio Castroneves, three-time Indy 500 champion.
“Our sport of racing dates back over 100 years to the very first Indy 500 in 1911, when our tires carried Ray Harroun to victory through the checkered flag on our tires,” Adams said. “Ever since, Firestone has worked to constantly evolve all race tire technology, and in return, advance innovation of our tire and its entire portfolio.”
Spanning 200 laps in 500 miles, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is tough on tires. That’s why the tires used for the Indianapolis 500 are unique to others, with a specific design and construction, said Adams.
The Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires are a racing slick, with a tread that is roughly two credit cards thick, explained Adams. This maximizes the tire’s footprint that comes into contact with the track and helps manage heat buildup in the tire at high speeds.
As Adams and Castroneves engaged in a fun and casual conversation about the demands of race day on drivers and their machines, tire technology and design were a focal point.
“Tires are extremely important. I don’t think people realize that,” said Castroneves. “The tires are actually able to tell the drivers what the car is doing, they’re the ones in contact with the asphalt.”
The technology enhancements and design of the tires are constantly improving based on driver tests and feedback, explained Adams.
“Our engineers are continually evolving as far as our technology and design,” said Adams. “We make sure that we have the best tires year over year, so driver input is helpful.”
Castroneves said Firestone tires are a part of his success and achievements on the racetrack. He credits the consistency of the tires over the years to ensure speed, safety and security.
“Trust is important. Going 238 mph at the first corner, you have to hope it’s going to stick,” said Castroneves. “I trust the setup of the car, and I trust my engineers. You go into your first lap fully confident it’s going to be okay.”
The green flag for this year’s race will drop at 12:45 p.m. EST Sunday, May 30 on NBC and NBCSports.com.