As part of a broader initiative to accelerate the use of sustainable technologies in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) announced plans to debut Firestone Firehawk race tires made with guayule natural rubber grown and extracted at the company’s guayule R&D facilities in Arizona. (Earlier post.)
The guayule race tire, featuring a new green sidewall, will be introduced during the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, streamed live on Peacock, on 27 May at 2:30 p.m. ET. Firestone Firehawk alternate race tires made from guayule rubber will make their competition debut at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville on 6-7 August.
Bridgestone aims to commercialize use of sustainable guayule natural rubber in tires by 2030, creating a promising new domestic industry.
Guayule is a heat tolerant, woody shrub that thrives in America’s desert southwest.
The shrub can be farmed with existing row crop equipment, saving costs for farmers.
Guayule creates up to 10 new industrial processing jobs per 1,000 acres of harvested crop.
Bridgestone believes guayule rubber has the potential to have a lasting economic impact, while reducing the energy and other environmental impacts associated with the transportation of rubber sourced overseas.
Bridgestone launched its guayule research initiative in 2012, when it broke ground on a guayule processing and research center in Mesa, Arizona. Today, the company operates the research center in Mesa, as well as a 281-acre guayule farm in Eloy, Arizona.
Bridgestone has invested more than $100 million in its efforts to commercialize guayule, achieving major milestones such as producing the first tire made from guayule-derived natural rubber in 2015, and continued expansion of its guayule molecular breeding program.
Guayule is part of the Bridgestone plan to achieve carbon neutrality and make tires from 100% renewable materials by 2050. The company is actively researching a range of solutions to support the recycling of materials from end-of-life tires and promote the replacement of non-renewable materials such as oil, silica and virgin carbon black in new tires.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES aims to achieve the “most sustainable month of May” in the history of the racing series. In addition to supplying guayule race tires, Bridgestone will also partner with Penske and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) to transport all Firestone Firehawk race tires to IMS via a Freightliner eCascadia from Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicles during the month of May.
IMS has installed a 150kW high power electric charging station at the track to allow for convenient charging. The collaboration between Bridgestone and Penske is aimed at advancing sustainable solutions in motorsports, reducing the sport’s impact on the environment and helping ensure fans can enjoy the thrills of racing for generations to come.