Firestone Racing was there for the very first Indy 500 in 1911, won by Ray Harroun on Firestone brand tires. Legend has it that tires played a pivotal role in the outcome of that first race.
Knowing that tire/wheel changes were difficult and time consuming back then, Ray asked the Firestone Racing engineers how fast he could drive without a tire failure. He was told 75 miles per hour. Sure enough, on May 30, 1911, he crossed the finish line first with an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour – and he only had to change one tire for the whole race.
So many memorable Indy 500 moments have happened on Firestone brand tires. Of our 61 Indy 500 victories, 43 were consecutive between 1920 and 1966. Great names such as Gaston Chevrolet, Wilbur Shaw, AJ Foyt, Jimmy Clark, Mario Andretti and Al Unser have chugged the milk in Victory Circle, thanks in no small part to the reliability of their Firestone race tires.
For many years, Firestone would advertise in newspapers around the nation after the race with artwork featuring all of their Indy 500 victories, proclaiming our Indy success. This ad typified the “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” mentality.
In 2011, the Centennial Anniversary of the first Indy 500, the 62nd driver will cross the finish line on Firestone tires, and we have re-created that classic ad. Who do you think it will be? Comment below and let us know.