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Bridgestone Revs Up for Monumental Season in Champ Car

  April 14, 2004

Bridgestone Revs Up for Monumental Season in Champ Car
As Returning Series Presenting Sponsor and Official Tire, Manufacturer

Has Become Integral Part of CCWS and Will Take Presence to Greater Heights

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2004) – Under new ownership and seeking to re-establish itself among the premier open-wheel series, Champ Car is relying on a trusted friend in Bridgestone Motorsport to assist in that endeavor. The journey begins this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the 2004 debut of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Again in 2004, Bridgestone will be much more than the Official Tire supplied to every Champ Car entry. The tire maker kicks off its second season as Presenting Sponsor in the series that bears its name. In a separate agreement with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Bridgestone also serves as the Official Tire for this event and will supply tires for all entries in the popular Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. It’s just the beginning of a season in which Bridgestone expects to take its primary role to an even greater level.

“We’re excited to be back in 2004 and ready to go racing,” says Al Speyer, Executive Director at Bridgestone Motorsport. “It was a tumultuous off-season for Champ Car, but the new series leadership has things back on track and headed in the right direction. This series still offers Bridgestone a stern challenge in tire development and the ability to receive substantial brand exposure – both areas where we intend to increase our role in 2004.”

The Long Beach race weekend offers a perfect example of ways Bridgestone is escalating its efforts in the competition and marketing areas related to the Champ Car World Series. Area Bridgestone retail outlets expanded Long Beach pre-event promotion that included distribution of “free Friday” coupons which grant fans free admission to the opening day of race activities. The Bridgestone retail group also boasts a significant presence at the auto expo running concurrent to the race, inside the Long Beach Convention Center.

On the track, Bridgestone Motorsport engineers have reintroduced the “option tire” concept that could lead to more passing and excitement on the twisting temporary street circuit. Under this plan, each car receives two sets of a “softer” Bridgestone Potenza race tire than the normal tire specification. These option sets, as they are called, can yield quicker lap times since they offer more grip than the standard tire, in theory making passing easier. Each car must run at least one set of the option tires in Sunday’s race.

Best of all for fans – both in the grandstands and watching on television – is that the option tires contain a special red marking on the sidewall that makes them visible to onlookers, even when the car is at speed. That means fans will know immediately which cars are equipped with the option Potenzas and have the increased passing ability.

“Bridgestone is doing its part on the track and off to make fans aware of just how exciting the Champ Car series is and how much fun they can have when they attend,” says Speyer. “Those fans are ideal Bridgestone customers and Champ Car helps us reach them in some very important markets such as Long Beach, so we’ll do whatever we can to enhance the competition and entertainment value. While the option tire concept is an experiment for this weekend only, it may prove an entertaining tool to utilize at several races this season.”

The Bridgestone contingent takes extra pride this year in supplying tires to the identically prepared Celicas for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. That’s because one of its own is driving. Andrew Firestone, great-grandson of Harvey S. Firestone (founder of Bridgestone’s sister brand Firestone), will participate in the Pro/Celebrity event. Andrew Firestone gained notoriety last year in his role as ABC-TV’s “The Bachelor,” and now serves as a Bridgestone/Firestone spokesman in addition to his role helping run the Firestone Wineries in California.

On top of all this, Bridgestone Motorsport is making it easier for media to cover this and every Champ Car race weekend. The Bridgestone Media Gallery debuts Friday, offering media free editorial use of on-track photos and information just by logging on to a special Web site. Information on how to locate and use the site is listed at the end of this news release.

“Long Beach is certainly the marquee U.S. event in the Champ Car World Series,” concludes Speyer. “It provides a terrific opportunity to showcase the reborn series and for Bridgestone to unveil the many ways it plans to be proactively involved. As I said before, let’s go racing!”

Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif.

April 16-18, 2004 – Round 1 of 16

Race Distance: 159.41 miles (81 laps around the 1.968-mile temporary street course).

Potenza Race Tires Supplied: Bridgestone delivered 848 dry-condition (“slicks”) and 304 wet-condition (“rains”) Potenza race tires for use this weekend. All were produced at the Bridgestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio. Per Champ Car World Series regulations, Bridgestone brought two dry-tire specifications and a single wet-tire spec, broken down in the following manner.

· Standard dry-condition tires: Each car receives five sets of standard slicks (20 tires) for the weekend, to use in the practice, qualifying and race sessions. An additional set (four tires) of standard slicks is available as long as it is used in the Friday morning practice session. The standard dry-condition specification contains the “softest” normally used tire compound and construction that Bridgestone employs in the series. It is the same spec run at Long Beach in 2003 and also is planned for use this season at street races in Toronto, Vancouver and Denver.

· Option dry-condition tires: Each car receives two sets of option slicks (eight tires) to use this weekend. One set (new or used) must be used for a stint in Sunday’s race, but there is no series mandate when or how long it must be run. The construction of the option tire is identical to the standard slick, but the option tire possesses a tread compound with moderately increased grip (“softer”). While the option tire contains additional speed potential, it trades away some of the long-lasting durability that the standard spec enjoys.

· Wet-condition tires (“rains”): Each car receives up to four new sets of grooved-tread Potenza rain tires per weekend on road and street courses, as needed. In addition, each car may use two sets of same-spec rain tires issued at a previous event. Bridgestone has two rain-tire specifications at its disposal, one for the faster permanent road circuits and another for the slower, tighter street courses. The street-course rain tire is available this weekend.

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: “We’re confident the option tire concept will add an air of excitement and unpredictability to the racing Sunday. It will be interesting to follow the varying team strategies as to when to utilize the option set of Potenzas that may provide the difference in making a pass critical to winning the race or getting to the podium. We’re pleased that the fans will be able to follow this intriguing angle as well, thanks to the tire sidewall marking system so unique that we are seeking a patent for it. We’re hopeful the option tire experiment succeeds and we can employ it at other venues this year.”

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