Bridgestone To Be CART Presenting Sponsor
©2002 SpeedCenter Publishing

A new logo and name are being jointly developed

FONTANA, Calif.--With its first season of competition in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) events almost complete, the Bridgestone Motorsport program is ready for new challenges and opportunities. For 2003, the Bridgestone brand, through Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC, will assume the role of Presenting Sponsor for the CART Champ Car Series. A new series logo and official name are being jointly developed and are expected to be revealed at the CART season-ending banquet in Miami, Nov. 21-22, 2002.

Known since 1998 as the CART FedEx Championship Series, CART's top competition category will continue as a showcase for open-wheel racing on ovals, superspeedways, road courses and street circuits. That diversity of competition--a major challenge for a tire manufacturer--appeals to many racing enthusiasts who have demonstrated loyalty to CART competitors and sponsors.

"This new direction demonstrates our commitment to building the Bridgestone brand in the Americas and abroad," said Shu Ishibashi, president of Consumer Tire Sales Group, Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC, (BFNT). "The additional exposure will help us reach more consumers, and will provide additional energy and enthusiasm among our associates, dealers and retailers around the globe. It's a very positive move for us.

"We've been involved with motorsports for many decades, so we fully understand the allegiance of fans to their favorite racing programs," Ishibashi continued. "Every series has its own unique appeal, and with that, its unique fan base and audience demographics. We introduced the Bridgestone brand to CART because the alignment of the two was a good fit. Now, after a year of cooperation, we're taking this association to the next logical step. We're confident this will be beneficial for us, for the series and for fans around the world who follow CART."

CART president and CEO Christopher R. Pook said showcasing the Bridgestone brand through this presenting position brings "great strengths to our programs and helps us deliver impressive racing events."

"We're delighted to feature the Bridgestone brand in our series," Pook said. "Universally respected as a technological leader in the tire industry, the Bridgestone brand is synonymous with quality. We've seen that demonstrated in CART and Formula One action, where Bridgestone Potenza“ tires offered unequaled performance all season long. And while I've been impressed with Bridgestone-branded products, I've been more impressed by the people and organization behind the brand, the global Bridgestone which includes BFNT. It's a business that does things right, and I'm pleased to have the weight of their company involved with CART in this new role. I know they'll be an effective partner and we're confident the association will provide substantial benefits for both our organizations."

The agreement confirms the Bridgestone brand as the exclusive racing tire for the series. Tire supply to teams will continue on a season-long leasing arrangement similar to this year. A television support campaign is tied to the arrangement, with Bridgestone brand advertising and in-car cameras during race broadcasts a part of the total package. Additional plans are in development to enhance the value of the Bridgestone-CART relationship through Bridgestone retail outlets in the United States and other countries.

Mark Emkes, CEO, president and chairman of BFNT, expressed his support for the relationship and for the efforts of Ishibashi. "This marks another highpoint in our company's commitment to open-wheel racing and I'm looking forward to an exciting year of racing on Bridgestone Potenza tires. Our company is dedicated to open-wheel racing, and open-wheel racing has no greater supporter in our company than Shu Ishibashi. It is through his vision that we and CART have been able to structure this win-win opportunity."

Bridgestone Motorsport executive director Al Speyer said the enhanced relationship with CART also would focus on "continuing efforts to supply the series with the absolute best racing tires it can have."

"Because CART races on four types of tracks, and in rain or dry on road and street courses, we have a tremendous challenge as a tire supplier," Speyer said. "With announced changes from this season to next affecting tracks and racecars, our engineers are eager for 2003 competition. That challenge is one of the major reasons we're involved with CART; it allows us to demonstrate our technological capabilities to a large audience that understands and appreciates performance."

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