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Goodyear Ends Indy Relations


Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. quit Indy-car racing Tuesday, blaming the costly feud between the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams.

Developing tires for competing open-wheel racing series "really raises the cost," said Stu Grant, Goodyear's general manager for global tires.

Eighteen engineers will be reassigned within Goodyear's Akron Technical Center and 60 manufacturing jobs will be cut.

Grant said Goodyear was disappointed that CART and IRL had been unable to resolve their feud.

"Like many suppliers, we are certainly disappointed that no reconciliation between the two groups is in sight and therefore believe it is in the best interests of our shareholders, customers and the racing division to take a sabbatical from the CART and IRL series," he said.

Goodyear, which had supplied tires for Indy-style racing for 36 years, will continue supplying other race series, including NASCAR, World of Outlaws, NHRA, IHRA, SCCA, USRRC, ALMS and IROC.

"Racing will continue to play a major role in the company's track-to-street tire technology transfer and our marketing and advertising strategies," Grant said.

Grant said the decision on Indy-style racing came down to a matter of economics of developing two tire lines. "It takes a lot of money to compete," he said. "Ultimately, we're running a business."

He said the decision to drop CART and IRL might be reconsidered if the two resolved their differences. Goodyear also said it hadn't ruled out returning to Formula 1 racing, which it quit earlier this year.

Firestone, which returned to Indy-type racing in 1995, has been dominant in the field, with winning cars in 59 of the past 71 CART races and four consecutive PPG champions. Since 1998, Firestone has 36 wins in 38 races and 35 poles.

Goodyear's share of the CART series had dwindled to the Penske, Walker and Bettenhausen teams with a total of five cars, just a fifth of a typical CART field.

CART vice president Tim Mayer said the decision wouldn't affect the quality of CART racing.

"We have the clear support of Firestone for the future," Mayer said in a statement released at CART offices in Troy, Mich.

Firestone has agreed to supply tires to all teams until a second supplier enters the field, Mayer said.

CART's final event of the season, the Marlboro 500, will be staged Sunday at the California Speedway.

Al Speyer, director of motorsports for Firestone Racing, said the rival tire maker was "not totally surprised but disappointed there's not going to be continuing tire competition" with Goodyear.

"The overall reaction is one of mixed emotions because our Firestone success on the race track is certainly part of Goodyear's decision to withdraw," he said.

IRL executive director Leo Mehl, who headed Goodyear's racing program for 22 years, said he did not expect the companys announcement.

"After being a Goodyear employee for so long, the first thing I think about is the thousands of dedicated employees who worked so hard to design, build and service race tires for the Indianapolis 500 since 1964," Mehl said. "The competition between Goodyear and Firestone in the Indy Racing League has been healthy and exciting."

Both tire makers have won 17 races and two Indianapolis 500s since the IRL started in 1996.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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