All Street Races to Feature Guayule Alternate Tires

Firestone continues its push toward sustainability as the guayule alternate tire used in last year’s Music City Grand prix at Nashville, will be the alternate tire for all five street course races in 2023.

The guayule shrub is a fast-growing plant which requires less water than a rubber tree, and has a quicker maturation period.

From today’s announcement from Bridgestone:

“The Firestone Firehawk race tire will be featured as the alternative tire at the Firestone Grand Prix (March 5) in St. Petersburg, Fla., Streets of Long Beach (April 16), Streets of Detroit (June 4), Streets of Toronto (July 16) and the Music City Grand Prix (Aug 6) in Nashville, Tenn. For the 2023 season, Bridgestone will supply more than 1900 tires using a sidewall material made exclusively with rubber derived from the guayule woody desert shrub grown on the company’s own farm in Eloy, Arizona. The initiative builds on the 2022 competitive debut of guayule race tires at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville last August.”

I talked to Cara Krstolic last May, who told me that the tire would be introduced gradually. We may see it on some road courses in 2024.

The guayule tires on display at IMS in May

“We are driving sustainability in every area of our business, and we’re thrilled to be advancing guayule and other sustainable practices in America’s premier open-wheel racing series,” said Paolo Ferrari, CEO of Bridgestone Americas. “Firestone has a tremendous legacy of innovation and performance in racing, which we will continue to build upon as we move into this new era of cleaner, safer and more sustainable mobility on and off the track.”

The 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 will feature a tire made from recycled material.

From the Bridgestone announcement:

“This year at the Indy 500, all race tires – for practice, qualifying and race– will incorporate ISCC recycled-attributed butadiene, a monomer produced with recycled post-consumer plastic waste, to create the synthetic rubber in the tire. The new monomer will replace the fossil-based monomer and will be supplied by Shell, the race series’ official fuel, oil and lubricant sponsor.”

Shell becomes the official fuel, oil, and lubricant supplier for the NTT Indycar Series this season. The company will provide a plant based fuel for the cars.

Indycar Recaps Sustainable Initiatives

From Indycar

INDYCAR Continuing Path
with Sustainable Leadership in Motorsports
 INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022) – The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season saw the announcement and implementation of many significant steps to a more sustainable motorsports racing series.
Perhaps the biggest announcement was the strategic partnership with Shell where the INDYCAR SERIES will compete with 100% Renewable Fuel beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 5, 2023. In addition, all INDYCAR team transporters supporting the series, will continue with 100% Renewable Diesel as they journey from their race shops to all 2023 race venues.
The Firestone Firehawk race tire with a green sidewall made from guayule rubber debuted in August at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. This scalable, sustainable and domestic source of natural rubber will be utilized in 2023.
INDYCAR is also continuing its path toward the introduction of a hybrid engine platform for the 2024 race season. This program is being developed through the collaboration of Ilmor, Chevrolet and Honda Performance Development. Testing of the hybrid motor has commenced and will continue through the 2023 season. With the introduction of the hybrid motor, the 2.4-liter engine will be paused to allow the innovative hybrid technology to be paired with the proven 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines.
“We are most proud of the many advancements that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has made in leading the motorsports world toward a more sustainable future”, INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “The 2.2-liter INDYCAR engines supplied by Honda and Chevrolet have provided the most competitive racing in the world. The 2024 hybrid engine package will provide even more excitement with horsepower increases over the current engine.”
The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Sunday, March 5 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Coverage will be available on NBC and simulstreamed on Peacock. Coverage also will be available from the INDYCAR Radio Network with audio available on the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

Lundgaard Paces Music City Practice 1

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Rookie Christian Lundgaard led today’s opening practrice for the Big Machine MGrand Prix this afternoon with a lap of 1:15.5659. Felix Rosenqvist anbd David Malukas, another rookie were second and third.

There were several stoppages. Dalton Kellett caused the first red flag when he went into the turn 1 runoff area and stalled. Rinus VeeKay brought out the red for a similar issue a few minutes later. Colton Herta caused the final red flag with about 25 minutes left in the session as he also stalled in the turn 1 run off.

Hwlio Castroneves, who installed a fifth engine and will lose six grid places after qualifyiung, had contact with the wall after locking his brakes in turn 1. He broke the toe link but was able to drive the car back to the pits.

Points leader Will Power had the seventh quickest lap. Defending race champion Marcus ericsson was 11th.

Lundgaard’s fast lap is another positive step for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team. Last weekend Lundgaard finished second in the Gallagher Grand Prix and Graham Rahal finished seventh. We will see if the team’s new found momentumwill continue through the weekend.

Green Tires Debut

Firestone’s new sustainably made tires with a green band made their official raceweekend session debut. Jimmie Johnson was the first dri er to try them out. It was a bit of a shock to see the green banded tire=s the first time by. It was more of a shock to to open the Indycar app and see the trademark F surrounded by green.

Results- Top 12

In the morning I will talk about what has improved since last year and preview qualifying.

Music City Grand Prix Preview- Altered Track, New Tires- Better Race?

Today’s Schedule: All Times Central












7:00 PM


The second year of a race, especially a street race, usually sets the tone for the event’s future. I tend to gave new races a pass the first year. The Music City Grand Prix had some issues in 2021, from customer service- grandstands weren’t complete until Sunday, some security and other staff were a bit, shall we say, overzealous- and the race itself was perhaps the worst one of last season.

Things look much better for 2022. It appears all infrastructure is set to go this morning. The track has been tweaked a bit to improve the racing, and fans are returning. I checked the ticket availability Wednesday. I saw fewer than 500 grandstand tickets available. I expect a much improved event.

Track Changes

Two turns have been modified, the start and all restarts will take place on the bridge, and some areas have been repaved.

Turn 9 has narrowed to 60 feet from 85 feet. This will slow the cars down and should create another passing area as the cars need to slow after exiting the bridge. Turn 11 has been widened by six feet in hopes of eliminating the bottleneck which was created last year by cars getting sideways and causing one the red flags in 2021.

Bridge entrances and exits have been repapved and the big bump in turn 5 has been reduced.

Today’s first practice at 3:15 Central time will tell us a lot about the effectiveness of the changes.

New Alternate Tires Debut

Nashville is the first race test for Firestone’s new alternate tire, produce fro the guayule plant, a more sustainable, more quickly replaced rubber substance. The tires have a green band in place of the traditional red on the alternate tire. In May Cara Krstolic told me Firestone chose Nashville for the tire’s race debut because they wanted to start with a low load track. The tire is scheduled to be the alternate for the full 2023 season.

Drivers expressed concerns about the consistency of the red alternate tires last weekend. I am interested in hearing their comments this weekend.

Paretta, Simona Return

Nashvile is the third and final race of the year for Paretta Autosport with driver Simona DeSilvestro, unless funding can be found for one of the west coast races. The team partners with Ed Carpenter Racing. I hope they can expand their program next year.

The Championship

With just four races to go, only 46 points separate the top five drivers in the standings. Will Power leads Marcus Ericsson by just nine points. Ericsson won this race in 2021 whoile Power did not finish well afetr a couple of spins in turn 11.

I think Power slightly increases his lead over Ericsson, but a couple of other contenders will gain ground. Josef Newgarden was disappointed in his showing in his hometown race in 2021, and carries aq lot of motivation into the weekend. Colton Herta dominated Nashville last year until he crashed late in the race.

A Honda Track?

Honda cars were quickest in 2021 in Nashville, and they showed well in Toronto this year. This track has many of the same elements as Toronto, and I look for the Ganassi team to be the class of the field. Like last week at IMS, a driver leaving his team at the end of the year will come away with a win. Defending champion Alex Palou will keep the Music City GP trophy in the Ganassi camp.

Look for a wrapup later this evening. I will report what I can from the track.

Indy Lights Switches to Firestone

This is big. Firestone Tires will be the new tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023. Cooper Tires had been the official tire of the Road to Indy for many years. Last year Indycar purchased the Indy Lights Series. From that perspective, the move makes sense. Running on the same tire as Indycar should also help drivers when they move to Indycar.

The official release from Indycar:

Firestone Announces Plan to Return
as Exclusive Tire Supplier for Indy Lights
 INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, June 22, 2022) – As part of the grand opening of Firestone’s Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) in Akron, Ohio, INDYCAR and Firestone officials announced plans for Firestone to become the sole tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023.The announcement highlights Firestone’s plans to expand its partnership with INDYCAR as the company is also the exclusive tire supplier for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, North America’s premier open-wheel series.
“Firestone continues to be a phenomenal partner,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We are proud to see that our relationship is expanding into supplying tires for both of our series. Their attention to detail, safety and performance is unmatched. Supplying their world-class product to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights reflects Firestone’s commitment to INDYCAR’s present and future.”
The move will mark a return for Firestone to INDYCAR’s developmental series as the Bridgestone brands Firestone and Dayton supplied tires for Indy Lights from 1991 to 2013.
“We look forward to expanding our partnership with INDYCAR to supply tires for Indy Lights starting in 2023,” said Lisa Boggs, director of motorsports, Bridgestone Americas. “We know the importance this series has for technology advancement and driver development and are proud to be a part of the journey.”
In the fall of 2021, INDYCAR assumed total control of Indy Lights operations. The 2022 season began a more inclusive atmosphere with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with integration in marketing, digital assets and race officiating.“
We want to thank Cooper Tires, who has been a partner with Indy Lights since 2014,” said Indy Lights Director Levi Jones. “Their assistance while INDYCAR assumed operational control was crucial to our success. With Firestone, we cannot wait to begin this new era, which will align the entire INDYCAR paddock and help our rising stars reach their goal of competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”
The 2022 Indy Lights championship continues Sunday, July 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Coverage begins at 10:35 a.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium. Coverage is also available from the INDYCAR Radio Network with audio available via the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Indycar and IMS set forth an environmental initiative last weekend. The plan is bold and there area lot of admirable things in it. many oft he initiatives involve behind the scenes steps the series and tracks are taking. Firestone tires will arrive at venues in electric vehicles. Team transporters will will renewable diesel. A new tire which will eventually replace the current alternate tire, made from a more renewable plant than rubber, will debut at the Indianapolis 500 pit stop competition and have its race debut at Nashville, the home of Bridgestone.

IMS has already switched to LED lighting and has taken steps to reduce water usage. Food concessions will donate extra food to Gleaners’ Food Bank and serve food in recyclable containers.

The speedway will also offer fans to buy carbon offsets and will also buy offsets to reduce its carbon footprint.

The plan is bold, but what will the fans see? How effective will these steps be? What wasn’t mentioned and should have been? I think there should be more tangible environmental effort

I am not sure how carbon offsets work, but from what I read, the money mainly goes to long term projects like reforestation. A person uses carbon for an activity, and buys into a project to replace trees. This is a very long term replenishment. I would rather see something with a more immediate effect. I have nothing against offsets, but they really don’t immediately replace the current consumprion.

Mark Miles said that recycling containers would be more visible at the speedway. It’s about time. The past few years they have been hard to find. I mostly saw the blue receptacles near the F1 garages on the south end. When I attended the Toronto race, the organizers had sets of three waste containers as unit generously scattered throughout the track area. One was for trash, one for recyclables, and a third for compost material. Food was served in mostly biodegradable containers.

Miles also mentioned the Bike to the 500 program. It is a nice idea for those ho are able to do this. Nothing was said about reestablishing the buses from the airport or downtown. Mass transportation in alternative fueled vehicles might be the most effective step the track could take. Reducing the number of cars at the speedway and surrounding area. would help a lot.

IMS is putting in an electric charging station for the tire delivery trucks. Why not put in a few for people who have electric vehicles and drive them to the track? There are speedway-owned lots outside the track which would be a good spot for these units.

Hosting an event with close to a half million people and vehicles in a concentrated area makes a large carbon footprint no matter what steps are taken. Indycar and IMS have taken a few steps to reduce the environmental impact. I hope they are planning to add more measures over time.

Penske Entertainment Announces Next Phase of Transformational Sustainability Initiatives 

From Penske Entertainment. Follow up commentary tomorrow:

 Indy 500 Continues To Set Industry-Leading Pace on Environmental Impact Firestone To Introduce New Race Tire with Sustainable Natural Rubber at Indy 500 Carb Day

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, April 22, 2022) – Penske Entertainment announced a robust and innovative lineup of environmental impact initiatives this afternoon, aiming to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint for this year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and significantly boost sustainability efforts within the sport of INDYCAR. These steps are the latest and most comprehensive elements of a long-term strategy for the organization that has been developed over the last two years.
The announcements made today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway DEX Imaging Media Center coincided with wider efforts across the nation and globe to celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22. They were unveiled in partnership with Firestone, Shell and additional corporate partners, which have worked with IMS and INDYCAR on a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the venue and sport.
“This will be the most sustainable Indy 500 in our 100-plus year history,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “Moreover, through excellent coordination and teamwork with partners who are true innovators in this field, we’re moving INDYCAR toward industry leadership when it comes to environmental awareness and impact.”
Month of May – Fueling Progress & Building Toward a Greener Future
Longtime series partner and tire supplier Firestone will play a key role in efforts surrounding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and throughout the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Firestone is a trailblazer in the charge for alternative and renewable sources of natural rubber and will debut a new and eco-friendly tire this May.
The Firestone Firehawk guayule race tire will be used for the first-time during Miller Lite Carb Day’s INDYCAR Pit Stop Challenge and will make its competition debut as the alternate race tire in August at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. It is partially composed of a new sustainable natural rubber derived from the guayule shrub, which requires less reharvesting than traditional sources of rubber
.“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,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer and group president, Solutions Businesses, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
“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 raw material.”
Firestone, IMS, the state of Indiana and veteran motorsports partner Shell also announced today that all race tires being supplied for Indy 500 practice, qualifications and Race Day will be delivered to the “Racing Capital of the World” from their Central Indiana warehouse using the Freightliner eCascadia from Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicles. To assist with the effort, a 150kW, high-power electric charger is being installed on the IMS grounds, in coordination with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Shell Recharge Solutions. The EV charging station is manufactured by BTC Power (Broadband TelCom Power, Inc.).“We’re working every day to make sure Indiana is a leader when it comes to renewable energy solutions,” Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “I can’t think of a better way to show our commitment to cleaner energy than by putting it on display during the largest sporting event in the world.”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also will take significant steps toward cleaner energy consumption and a lowered carbon footprint across the Month of May. Like in 2021, all electricity consumed throughout the facility in May will continue being purchased via 100 percent renewable energy credits. In addition, IMS has teamed up with Shell and climate technology company CHOOOSE on the implementation of a new customer program that allows fans to offset their travel footprint through a nominal contribution to the GreenTrees reforestation project. IMS also will offset its entire operational carbon footprint during the Month of May through its contributions to GreenTrees, a vital effort that restores natural habitats in more than 1 million acres across seven states in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
“At Shell, we aim to provide more and cleaner energy solutions in a responsible manner – in a way that balances short- and long-term interests,” explained Dani Silva, Shell vice president of Enterprise Accounts. “We are very pleased to be a part of Penske Entertainment Corp.’s efforts in increasing the sustainability of motorsports and the off-track potential it also enables.”
Other initiatives of note during the Month of May include:Increased waste diversion efforts throughout the facility with expanded recycling and food recovery programs.
Legends, the official IMS retail partner, will open a fully sustainable store inside an electric truck. All items sold in the truck will be reusable or designed from recycled plastic bottles.
Last year, the Indy 500 was certified at the Silver level by the Council for Responsible Sport after achieving 37 social and environmental standards of good practice. The venue implemented facility upgrades to increase both energy and water-use efficiency, calculated a robust greenhouse gas emissions inventory and enhanced its “Bike to the 500” program. IMS is working toward becoming the first sports facility in the world to become a Responsible Sport Certified venue.
INDYCAR’s Sustainable Path ForwardAlongside work with Firestone on expanded use of the guayule natural rubber, INDYCAR also announced today that starting with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in June, all 26 NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars will be transported by trucks that are fueled by renewable diesel, which significantly reduces travel-related emissions.
“The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its partners are continually evaluating ways to lower our footprint and create a more sustainable future,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We’re looking forward to using renewable diesel in our transporters beginning in June and expect to have several more important initiatives to unveil in the near future.”
This year’s Indianapolis 500 at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes place on Sunday, May 29 on NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network. The schedule for the 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season can be found here and is available to fans to watch across NBC Sports platforms. 

IMS Tire Test – Looking Two Seasons Ahead

Photo: Pato O’Ward will represent Chevy in today’s test.

Today’s schedule:

Tire testing 9-12

Break 12-1

Tire testing 1-5

Today’s tire test won’t have the drama or excitement of Wednesday’s Rookie Orientation, but it has importance for the next two seasons of the NTT Indycar Series. In addition to testing next year’s tire compound for the Indianapolis 500, Indycar will add weight to the cars, simulating the added weight in 2023 of the larger 2.4 liter engine and the hybrid energy recovery system. The new components should about 125 pounds to the cars. The extra weight will give the series an idea of how the balance of the cars will change under more weight.

I am very interested to hear what Jay Frye and the technical crew says about today’s results. We are a long way from the final configuration for 2023.

Helio Castroneves after winning his fourth Indianapolis 500 in May

Meyer Shank Racing with Helio Castroneves will represent Honda and Arrow McLaren SP with Pato O’Ward will test for Chevy. are the test cars. The oldest driver in the series and one of the youngest drivers providing input reflects the 2021 season and the generational transition Indycar is going through.

As far as I know the turn 2 mounds are open. There is no streaming for today’s activity.