NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This weekend at the Music City Grand Prix, Bridgestone-Firestone is going to debut a brand-new kind of racing tire. And some of the technology from the development of that tire may one day be used in the tires that we all drive on.
It’s called the Firestone Firehawk Race Tire, and the rubber in the sidewalls comes from a plant grown right here in the united states.
Cara Krstolic, Firestone Director of Race Tire Engineering & Manufacturing explained where the plant is grown, and its advantages over traditional rubber.
“Behind that green printing that you see, we actually have guayule rubber, 100% guayule in the sidewall of the tire,” Krstolic explained. “So, that guayule rubber, instead of the traditional hevea rubber, which grows on a tree in Southeast Asia, this is a plant that is a woody desert shrub that grows in the southwest of the U.S. and Mexico.”
Bridgestone has a 287-acre farm in Arizona where they are growing the guayule plant. Growing this type of rubber domestically lowers all of their shipping costs and also lowers the amount of carbon that is used in the shipping process.
They are not relying on one single species of tree for the entire world’s supply of natural rubber. And for Indy Car racing, these tires have to be tough, too.
“We’re going to see speeds of about 180 mph here at the Music City Grand Prix this weekend,” Krstolic pointed out. “So, they’ve got to be able to deal with heat. And they’ve got to be flexible. And if you see an Indy Car, you know racing is exciting. There’s wheel-to-wheel contact. So, this rubber on the sidewall has to protect the tire, the body of the tire, from things like hitting other tires, hitting walls.”
And the goal is to one day use this same technology in the tires that you and I drive on daily.
“It’s always been ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday,’ trying to put our technology in our most demanding application with Indy Car, which is one of the most versatile racing series,” Krstrolic said. “It throws a lot at these Firestone tires. So, if we can showcase new technology and new material, like guayule, in our racing tires, how much better is it going to be on our passenger tires?”