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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

IndyCar avoids blowout with tire deal, but questions remain

March 11, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard dodged a pothole when he signed a deal late this week to retain Firestone as the open-wheel series’ tire provider through 2013.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, so all the big questions remain.

Will Firestone continue offer free tires to IndyCar teams (at a cost of about $750,000 per team)?

Will Firestone continue to pump $7 million to $8 million annually into marketing the series.

Another key question is; Who will pay to develop a new tire for the new chassis and engine formula (to debut in 2012) at a cost of at least $6 million, and maybe as much as $10 million?

Is this 11th hour tire deal a stop-gap measure, or is Firestone in the series for the long-haul?

Who will be the title sponsor for the IndyCar Series' primary feeder series, the Indy Lights? Firestone officials on Friday said they would not continue as title sponsor of that series.

Firestone cash as well as tires has kept the series rolling, and without that money (and financial assistance for the team), the series could still find itself with a deflating effort.

Bernard deserves solid marks for retaining Firestone during an era of change for the IndyCar Series. Now he needs to make sure his tire provider keeps the pedal to the metal through 2013 and beyond.
 

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