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Harvey Firestone, Sr.

HARVEY FIRESTONE, SR. was quick to recognize auto racing, almost from the time of its inception, as a virtual outdoor laboratory and proving ground for automotive products. He welcomed competition and risked the future of his young company on its ability to build better and safer tires. Firestone tires were on Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp,” which won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race in 1911. Firestone tires continued to be used on the majority of winners of National Championship races, including the Indianapolis 500, until the company withdrew from racing in 1974. Twenty years later Firestone returned to racing after it was purchased by Bridgestone. Even during the many periods when no other tire company was involved in open-wheel racing, Firestone conducted vigorous tire tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other tracks on a regular basis throughout the year. In much of the company’s national advertising, particularly during the 1950s, Firestone proudly reported its successes on the nation’s race tracks.