Aug 4, 2022 - News

Green tires at Music City Grand Prix mark a new era

A tire with a bright green wall.
Photo: courtesy of Bridgestone

Racers in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix this weekend will use a new and more sustainable Bridgestone tire made with natural rubber.

  • Researchers extracted that rubber from the desert shrub guayule that is native to the southwestern United States. It was grown at Bridgestone's experimental farm in Arizona.

Why it matters: The new tires are a window into the future of rubber production at Bridgestone, chief race tire engineer Cara Krstolic tells Axios.

  • Krstolic says the domestic, low-water crop has a lower environmental impact than the company’s overseas rubber production.
  • The long-term goal is to use the new rubber source for everyday passenger tires.

The intrigue: The IndyCar race through downtown Nashville will mark the new tires' competitive debut.

What she's saying: "We love to talk about racing being the ultimate proof point for our technologies," Krstolic says, adding that racing allows the company to see how its products withstand "really grueling conditions."

  • "It's something that's exciting far beyond racing, and it's something that you're going to be able to see as we're able to scale up the production of this crop."

Between the lines: The Firestone Firehawk tires feature sidewalls made with guayule rubber. They will be the alternate race tire and will be used on every car at some point during the race.

  • You'll be able to spot the tires because of their distinctive green sidewalls.

Flashback: The company began developing guayule as a rubber source in 2012 and has put $100 million toward the research effort, according to a statement.

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