It’s understandable, but not orchestrated, that Page Mader and Al Speyer would retire in the same season of year. They’ve been synonymous with Firestone Racing and, in a sense, with each other for nearly four decades.
In fact, Speyer’s wife, Jane, introduced Mader to his wife, Jean. They’ve been married for 26-plus years.
“I’ve known Page both professionally and personally since the days when we started at Firestone in the early ‘70s,” said Speyer, Firestone Racing’s executive director. “We were both in the tire development department at the time. He actually started out writing specifications for everything and has worked his way up through all the engineering ranks now to be doing some very sophisticated race tires.
“We’ve worked on all sorts of different projects together – drag tires, sprint car tires, sports car tires and now to be doing IndyCar tires. The critical part is that Page has been part of it all the way. I don’t know where we’d be without him. His contributions go beyond the tires. The relationships he’s built with the teams and the people he’s mentored along the way are true traits of his, and he never holds back on letting you know how he feels.”
Mader, general manager of race tire development, transitioned to racing in 1979. He’s been involved in developing a range of Firestone tires for drag racing, sprint cars, modifieds, sports cars and Indy cars.
“The first test I met Joe Ruttman at Bakersfield and I thought, ‘How cool is this?’ ’’ Mader said. “We were doing late model sportsman and modified and also doing World of Outlaws with Steve Kinser. In ’90 we started the Indy Lights program and the first test was with Paul Tracy because he was getting ready to go to Indy car. Indy Lights now is a bulletproof program and along the way we’ve helped a lot of drivers.”
IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights competitors continually praise the Firestone Firehawks for being bulletproof.
The brand’s current Indy car era began in 1991 with title sponsorship of the Indy Lights series. Firestone Racing made its return to the Indianapolis 500 in 1995, and Firestone tires were on the winning car of the first INDYCAR-sanctioned race in 1996 – and every race since. In December 2012, it extended its contract to be the exclusive tire supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series through 2018.
Mader has been intricately involved in all the programs.
“I never thought I’d get to do all that I do and meet the wonderful drivers, owners and just friends,” he said. “I have loved every minute working in race tire development. Most people go to work and my work is a pleasure for me, and it’s a wonderful thing that the company has continued (in IndyCar racing) and I got to be a part of it.”