June  2011 Vol. 2, Issue 3    

It’s officially summer, and for many of our teammates summer and auto racing go hand in hand. It has been a very exciting season for our motorsports program, beginning this past March. You may recall that we were initially unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension, and we announced that 2011 would be our last year as the sole tire supplier to IndyCar.  Then something truly remarkable happened. The drivers and owners insisted that they had to race on Firestone — that no other tire would do. So IndyCar decided to accept our last offer, which we agreed to honor. What an incredible statement about the quality and performance of our Firestone race tires. Thanks to Page Mader, General Manager, Race Tire Development, BATO; Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports, and the entire race tire team for doing such an exceptional job. Together, they are the best team in all of racing!

 Along with the announcement of the extension of our IZOD IndyCar Series contract through 2013, there was another reason to celebrate this year – the centennial anniversary of the Indianapolis 500®. For 100 years now, the fastest race car drivers in the world have gathered at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May to put on what is known as    “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing™” – the Indy 500. And our Firestone brand was there day one, when Ray Harroun won the very first Indy 500 on Firestone tires in 1911. Over the years, Firestone tires have equipped more Indy 500-winning drivers than all other tire manufacturers combined. This year, Dan Wheldon took a stunning last-lap victory to become the 62nd driver in history to cross the yard of bricks at the finish line first on our product, and we are proud of that accomplishment.

Such an outstanding record does not happen without a tremendous amount of hard work. From our Race Tire Development group in Akron, to the teammates in race tire manufacturing, to our administrative and management motorsports staff in Nashville and Akron, it takes a great deal of time, effort and resources to support our participation in racing and allow us to be a part of this amazing show for the hundreds of thousands of fans at IMS and the millions of television viewers around the world.

Over and over again, we heard from the drivers that they never worry about their Firestone tires, which allows them to focus their full attention on driving at speeds more than 220 mph. Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon visited our hospitality chalet after the race and shared his feelings about our company and our tires. “Certainly without great partners like Firestone, doing what we do wouldn’t be possible, and it wouldn’t be as much fun,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to be in IZOD IndyCar Series cars now since 2002, and Firestones are all I’ve ever driven on. I certainly feel safer because of that. There’s absolutely no doubt – there’s no other tire company out there that can give us what we need to be able to do these speeds around this speedway as consistently and as safely as Firestone.”

Financial Progress Report

Sales for Bridgestone Americas in May were lower than original budget. Impacted by weakened consumer demand due to higher gasoline prices, sales of replacement tires for BATO and BSRO suffered. Higher raw material costs had a significant negative impact on profit for BATO NA, and due to strong results in the Credit Card division, BSRO achieved its original budget numbers for operating profit. Both FSBP and FSIP had their fifth straight month of sales exceeding original budget, as well as better-than-budget operating profit and profit before tax in May, and BATO LA achieved results that were better than original budget due to strong pricing in the market. 

Achievements and Recognition

Congratulations to the Bridgestone Humanitarian Award winners for 2010. The Bridgestone Humanitarian Award has been given annually to teammates who support cultural and civic activities, programs that benefit the community, or proactively protect and improve the environment and communities where they live. This year we had three winners:

  • Scott Kalkis with BSRO was recognized for going above and beyond to help both a fellow teammate and a complete stranger through organ donation.

  • John Jimenez with Truck PM Plus was recognized for his tireless work with the elderly, the sick and those less fortunate in his community.

  • Becky Monahan, a teammate who works in the Akron Print/Lettershop, was recognized for her efforts to bring awareness in the community of the dangers of drunk driving. 

Congratulations again to each of you. Your efforts in the communities we call home enrich the lives of others and make us all proud. A $1,000 donation is made to each winner’s charity of choice. Look for more information on the Humanitarian Award winners in the Network online teammate newsletter.

I would also like to congratulate the teammates at our Firestone Building Products Company facility in Prescott, Ark., for celebrating 40 years of operations and 1 million hours worked without a lost-time accident.  I am very proud of all that this facility has accomplished, and the impact you have had on the Prescott community.  Keep up the good work!

If you have a teammate or team you’d like to nominate for recognition in a future edition of Across the Americas, please email the information to Don Darden in Community & Corporate Relations at dardendon@bfusa.com

I’d like to offer my congratulations to Dan Wheldon for a well-deserved second Indianapolis 500 victory, and also congratulate everyone associated with our motorsports program for representing our company so well on one of the world’s largest stages.

The IZOD IndyCar Series season didn’t slow down after the Indy 500, though. With solid TV ratings and strong race attendance, the Series showcased more great racing at the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile and most recently the Iowa Speedway.

Be sure to watch as the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers next hit the track in Toronto on Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m. ET on Versus.

©2011 Bridgestone Americas Inc.
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