Mario Andretti: IndyCar’s new Firestone deal is a “win-win”

Four-time Indy car champion and 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti has endorsed IndyCar’s new contract with Firestone, saying that there’s “no question about the validity of having continuity in the tire sector.”

Mario Andretti: IndyCar’s new Firestone deal is a “win-win”

Firestone, which is entering its 20th seasons as IndyCar’s sole tire supplier, today announced it has extended its deal through 2025. Andretti, who was one of Firestone’s primary test drivers in Indy car racing from the mid 1960s, commented: “The only thing that could be better than this announcement today is if the relationship would have been extended to 2050!”

He continued: “I started my career in Indy car luckily by being able to join one of the top three teams in the series [Dean Van Lines]. Happened to be the team that, at the time, during the famous tire war between Firestone and Goodyear, they were on the Firestone side.

“It seemed like I fit the bill because the first test that I did, I was brutally honest with what I was reporting to the engineers. They thought that was something they had not experienced because sometimes when you have more experienced veterans, they tell the engineers what they want to hear. There was another side of it.

“That's how I got the job as one of the test drivers, which worked really peachy for me because, as you can imagine, it gave me the opportunity to put so many miles under my belt which helped me develop my skills, but also the full understanding of what it's all about, the [tire] technology.

“This is why I feel that today is a perfect example of a win-win situation coming together. There's no question about the validity of having continuity in the tire sector. There's no element of a racecar that's more important than the tires. I think you can fix the aerodynamics, you can fix the suspension technology, so on and so forth, but you cannot afford to have issues with the tires.

“There's no discipline on this planet that's more demanding than Indy cars because of the speeds we're experiencing. Ed [Carpenter] can tell you, when he sat on pole a couple years ago, going into turn one at 235mph, turning left without lifting. I guarantee you when he came back after the four laps he kissed the right front tire! As a driver, you just don't even want to think about that. It's not a given…

“There were some rumblings a couple years ago of another competitor coming in. I started asking the drivers –‘Okay, Dario Franchitti, would you be the one that would actually volunteer to be the first test driver here at Indy for the other brand?’ He says, ‘No way.’

“It's that critical. Now, the proprietary knowledge that Firestone and Bridgestone possess is not something that's just proprietary. Believe me, that's a fact.

“Again, even for me driving the two-seater, with the responsibility that I have, I have no qualms. Anything can happen in this world. You could have a puncture. But as far as the integrity of the tire, of the products, it's something that absolutely there's no question because of a proven record.

“This is the best insurance that the series could have for not having an issue.”

Mario Andretti won the 1965 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award for finishing third behind Jimmy Clark and Parnelli Jones.

Mario Andretti won the 1965 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award for finishing third behind Jimmy Clark and Parnelli Jones.

Photo by: Uncredited

 

shares
comments
Firestone extends IndyCar deal through 2025

Previous article

Firestone extends IndyCar deal through 2025

Next article

IndyCar’s big questions of 2019

IndyCar’s big questions of 2019
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Andretti
Author David Malsher-Lopez
Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
May 10, 2021
Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020