Hoosier Racing Tire casting eye toward IndyCar

December 13, 2012
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Hoosier Racing Tire officials are making no bones about it.

When I talked to them at last week’s International Motorsports Industry Show at the Indiana Convention Center, they confidently stated they’re interested in supplying tires for the IndyCar Series and have no doubt they can handle the job.

“We make more race tires than any other company,” said Hoosier Tire spokeswoman Paula Nate. “Our tires have competed in all types of racing and on all types of tracks.”

It’s true, for pure racing purposes, that Lakeville-based Hoosier, a family-owned company launched in 1957, makes more tires than any of the big boys, including Goodyear and the IndyCar Series’ current supplier, Firestone.

Hoosier tires are huge in many of the smaller race circuits around the country. The company has supplied tires for sports cars, stock cars and dragsters including teams in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, NHRA and NASCAR. Darrell Waltrip rolled into victory lane at the 1989 Daytona 500 on a set of Hoosier tires.

Discussions have heated up in recent months about IndyCar’s tire supplier. Firestone’s contract with the open-wheel series expires after the 2014 season and former series CEO Randy Bernard was looking hard at other suppliers. Firestone was not pleased and wasn’t shy about voicing those concerns.

In the spring of 2011, Firestone threatened to pull out of the IndyCar Series when its contract expired at the end of that year. IndyCar officials were forced to sweeten their financial deal with Firestone to get the company to stay through 2014. But sources close to the series said Bernard thought the deal had gotten too lucrative for Firestone so he opened up talks earlier this year with other tire suppliers.

The tire issue will be one of the first fires to put out for new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles. It takes considerable time to develop a racing tire for a series, especially one whose cars regularly exceed 200 mph and on a wide variety of tracks.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO and interim IndyCar CEO Jeff Belskus said he’d like to have a tire deal ironed out by early 2013.

IndyCar team owners and drivers have expressed concerns about switching from Firestone, adding that thoroughly tested tires are paramount for driver safety.

“Hoosier has a long history of providing a safe, consistent product,” Nate said.

Hoosier’s manufacturing plant in Plymouth became the first one solely dedicated to racing tires in 1979, Hoosier officials said.

Hoosier sells mostly racing tires—not for passenger cars, so it wouldn’t need the type of marketing punch from the series that a company like Firestone would. Nate said Hoosier-made IndyCar tires could be badged with the Continental brand.

Sources close to Continental said the company is willing to consider spending as much to market the IndyCar Series as Firestone is currently. Founded in 1871, Germany-based Continental is the world’s fourth-largest tire maker behind Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear.

  • Makes great sense
    This should cause the next extended controversy so, as such, it's makes GREAT sense. Hoosier won the big high speed racing battle against Goodyear in NASCAR, didn't they? They didn't? Hmmmm...was it F1? No? Hmmm...yep, they got the experience that IMS likes: ZERO. Just home-grown hand-in-hand IMS style business dealings. Maybe they can get Obama stimulus money to pay for it like the I talian coffee house and Dallara parts depot. Mark Miles, this proactive out-of-the-box thinking is pure genius...1940's Indiana genius! Just what will grab NEW eyeballs. Turn your head and *cough* AOW fans...
  • Fact of that matter is...
    ...Hoosier fits because the "500" is now only a big 'ol deal in Indiana. Might as well keep it local for the yocals. The big boys are done with IndyCar. Too little ROI because there is too little interest. Keepin' it Indianer at least buys the "500" to the 100 edition. Then Miles can maybe work a deal to get some ROI out of that acerage. He cannot get the same return on anything value added with what is there now. If Hoosier gets them to 2016 and gets to go out with them, it may not be a bad thing. Besides, tire blow-ups will add color and excitement to the last couple "500's". Look, truth is, and Miles knows it, if the Indianapolis 500 went way tomorrow, it would be a sob story in Indiana and entirely a yawner everywhere else. People in Pacoima and Pittsburgh would barely notice and certainly not give it three seconds thought. IMS and the Indy 500 is an Indiana deal. So Hoosier fits the local bill.
    • Tire War
      Firestone has been an excellent partner to the Indycar Series and makes an excellent racing tire. I don't however like the way they extorted more money out of the series by threatening to leave. They made Randy Bernard beg them to stay and doubled their prices to boot. Since Firestone only agreed to stay thru 2014 the Indycar CEO had to do something to ensure a continuous supply of tires and Hoosier/Continental was willing to step up. At the very least Indycar can use Hoosier/Continental as a little extortion, uh, leverage of thier own in negotiations with Firestone for 2015 and beyond.
    • The JP
      haY man, IF there was ROI from involvement with the IMS/Indy/IzodCarz, FIRESTONE wouldn't leave. But, because so little is to be gained by association with this rundown slum of a racing series they can't FOREVER absorb losses because the Speedway doesn't have a clue on how to run anything, EXCEPT it's self into the ground. Wise business dealings by Firestone, IMHO. Now, IMS just needs to scam Hoosier/Continental into buying into the whole new Mark Miles led scam of new eyes going forward - never look back - line in the sand approach to AOW management and the IRL will have a tire manufacturer they can extort fees from. Pretty easy if you ask me.
    • Chief are you a CPA or CFO
      Chief is poop was music you weould be brass band. What do you know about big business. Please take up 6 column inches and let us see your resume. You are not a realist or a person who offer opinions how to make things better. Give some examples of how to help. For months you only chastize ANYTHING the IMS or Indycar puts out. Does anyone believe your smarter then and Andretti, The Hulmans or Penske - maybe you are but you only blow smoke up peoples tailpipes right now!!
    • So is Chief really that ignorant, or has he been living under a rock? Hoosier was forced out of NASCAR by Goodyear which didn't want the competition. They leaned on teams to not buy Hoosiers, they leaned on NASCAR to make it extremely expensive to supply tires. Hoosier is the most used tire in racing for a reason. They are good at what they do. With the debacles from Goodyear in NASCAR, I am betting Goodyear is glad Hoosier is heading to Indy and not making another run at NASCAR. It would be good to get Hoosier in the series. Racing tires for racing cars. Firestone pulled a fast one with its blackmail, time for Indy car to kick them to the curb.
    • Big B
      I make suggestions all the time big fella. I've even offered consultation services to the Speedway, free of charge. Mark Miles and I have the same number of successful AOW series we've run on our resumes. I guarantee I could bring this sport back faster and better than these stiffs at 16th and Jonestown. Here's a suggestion: FIRE Brian Barnhart. Why? Just because....
    • Indyman
      Firestone blackmail? Quite a conspiracy theory you got working there....I guess no one gets over on the Speedway, do they Indyman? Hoosiers, MAVTV, IZOD Five HUNEDRED t-shirts, and a couple cases of LUCAS OIL. Add in some zip-lines, another centennial era and a Super Bowl or two and by-golly, this deal could be the awesome good! There is a reason why inbreeding is discouraged. Get out of Marion County once in while Indyman...
      • Thanks Hoosier For Enthusiasm
        I see the usual obsessed children have once again tripped over themselves to post essentially the same repetitive, vapid, nonsense fantasy yet again. Let us know take a more reasoned, intelligent approach. First, kudos to Anthony for getting out there and talking to people, then naming names. Second, let's talk about Firestone. They make a great tire that is proven over time. That said, they essentially blackmailed IndyCar last year, and have not really been the partner they have been. This may be due to the fact that they are no longer a quaint Akron company with visions of Harvey Firestone guiding their growth. They are now a Japanese company whose brass is more interested in golf. That's fine, but IndyCar deserves a company that is passionate about the sport. Hoosier/Continental is. And they make the tires just up the road. That fits in well with the business value proposition the IndyCar Series is cultivating. Oh sure there are naysayers. Some drivers and owners are freaked out about moving from Firestone. They have two choices: 1) Work in positive ways to enhance the development and rollout of a great new parter, or 2) act like insolent children and walk away in a huff. If they choose the latter history has shown there are plenty of qualified folks willing and ready to take their place. Personally, a deal with Hoosier/Continental is a no-brainer. I would even like seeing manufacturer competition in that area. My $.02.
      • Well lets see, Firestone waited till the last minute to demand a new tire deal or they were going to pull out, knowing full well that there was not enough time to bring in another tire manufacturer. Seems to me that is blackmail. Now they are concerned that Indycar is looking for a new tire manufacturer? That goes in the category of duh.
      • I can hear it already
        Cue the car owners: "What? Mark Miles wants to dump Firestone? FIRE HIM!! Doesn't he realize that WE run this series?!" The more things change, the more they...suck.
      • Chief or CHief
        Man, not even Robin Miller would believe you or your comments. As you write your name 10 different ways. Can you please give us your occupation. I said its a comedian. Come on I have to be close.
      • Only One Problem...
        Comedians need to be funny.
      • KUDOS to Ryan Hunter-REAY
        Perhaps if Ryan had HOOSIERS on his Race of Champions car over in Europe he might have finished better. What an embarrassment for ALL INDY fans. If Ryan wasn't DFL, he finished "next to last". Another fine representation of the absolute lowest quality the IRL/Indycarz continues to generate from 16th and Jonestown. MARK MILES,,,,get this Continental/Hoosier tire deal done PRONTO! Firestone (allegedly) blackmailed you! Every press release sez "Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) announced today that it has mutually agreed with INDYCAR to allow its Firestone brand sponsorship and supply contract with the sanctioning body’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights to expire at the end of the 2011 season." Where does it say blackmail? And it did so in March 2011, one year before the DW12 launched (figuratively, like a boat).
      • 25/8
        Guess not. Good for Hoosier
      • Why
        Why doesn't Hoosier understand the series is not marketable because the product sucks? Hoosier...do yourself a favor...just buy some crash barrier advertising that can be seen in every corner of every Indy 500 broadcast or have Indy paint up a "Hoosier Special" like Lotus did and you wouldn't have to pay for a whole season to participate in it. The 500 is the only thing of value, and that is based on it's legacy...the other 7 doubleheaders are worthless to you. Listen to your Uncle Chiefy, IMS just wants someone to pay for their toys. B2B doesn't work in the series...you can take that to the 350% ROI bank...ask about how well the title sponsor is doing (or not doing).

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