To accelerate the uptake of sustainable technologies within the NTT IndyCar Series, Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) will debut Firestone Firehawk branded race tires produced using guayule natural rubber. The natural rubber is grown and extracted at Bridgestone’s guayule R&D facilities in Arizona.
Guayule is a woody shrub with heat-tolerant properties that can be found in the deserts of southwest USA. The tire maker believes the rubber can have a lasting economic impact in addition to reducing the energy and other environmental impacts associated with the transportation of rubber sourced overseas. Furthermore, the shrub can be farmed using existing row crop equipment to reduce costs for farmers.
The new sustainable race tire features a green sidewall and will be debuted during the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge on May 27, 2022. Additionally, Firestone Firehawk alternate race tires produced using guayule rubber will make a competition debut at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee, August 6-7, 2022.
By 2030 Bridgestone aims to commercialize the use of sustainable guayule natural rubber in tires.
Furthermore, to achieve what it calls ‘the most sustainable month of May’ in the history of the racing series, the NTT IndyCar Series will also see Bridgestone partnering with Penske and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) to transport all Firestone Firehawk race tires to IMS using a Freightliner eCascadia from Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicles.
“The introduction of guayule natural rubber to America’s preeminent open-wheel racing series speaks to the confidence we have in the technology and its promise as a scalable, sustainable and domestic source of our industry’s most vital raw material,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer and group president, solutions businesses, Bridgestone Americas. “It will take partnership and collaboration to combat the impacts of global climate change and we are proud to partner with Penske, IndyCar and IMS to advance the future of sustainable mobility.”