Firestone becomes title sponsor of IndyCar's season-ending race
Firestone, the US tyre company owned by Japan’s Bridgestone, has taken over the title sponsorship of the final race of this year’s NTT IndyCar Series season, with the race at the Laguna Seca circuit in California to be known as the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
This year’s race on 20 to 22 September marks the return of the series to the circuit after a 15-year hiatus.
Firestone is also title sponsor of the season-opening race, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on 8 to 10 March.
Meanwhile, it is “possible” that the announcement earlier this week that NTT-Data, the Japanese IT corporation, has been installed as the new title sponsor of the series, will signal a return of the series to racing in Japan, according to Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president.
He said: “NTT is our partner. Any time we do something the magnitude of a title sponsorship, we discuss what areas of the world are important to them, where do they want to go. So, it is possible, yes. Is it more possible [than before NTT came on board]? We’re working on that now. But having a global brand like NTT attached to us is obviously a really good thing.”
Frye added: “The reason they’re doing [the sponsorship] is to expand their footprint in North America. [Bringing the series back to Japan] might not be 100-per-cent one of their goals, but that’s their home, and if we can put a big event there so they can showcase what they’re doing in North America, I’m sure that could be a positive for them.
“Things like this take time. Sure we could consider it.”
NTT’s expanded commitment includes serving as the official technology partner of IndyCar, the IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the showpiece Indianapolis 500 and Nascar’s Brickyard 400 held at IMS.
Verizon, the US telecoms group, decided not to extend its IndyCar title sponsorship agreement beyond 2018, after five years in the role.