SOURCE: Toyota Trucks

February 08, 2006 15:13 ET

Chicago Auto Show's Exclusive Tire Company Showcases Tire Technology, Safety and Motorsports Excellence

Fans Get a Rare Glimpse of the 1911 Marmon Wasp -- the First Car to Win the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

CHICAGO, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 8, 2006 --Proving that a great tire company can roll with the world's premier automobile makers, Bridgestone Americas has created one of the must-see attractions at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. In addition to appearances by racing legend Mario Andretti and current Indy 500 Champion Dan Wheldon, the company's exhibit features technologically advanced products, interactive tire displays and one of the most important pieces of motorsports history--the 1911 Marmon Wasp which Ray Harroun drove to victory on Firestone tires in the very first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

"For three consecutive years we've been the exclusive tire company of the Chicago Auto show, and our partnership with the show has given our brands and our products great visibility with consumers," said Christine Karbowiak, vice president of public affairs, Bridgestone Americas. "This year we're proud to present an exhibit that both reflects our company's three important core values--trust, innovation and safety--and introduces visitors to our diverse businesses in the Americas as well as our global capabilities."

Andretti, considered by many to be the world's most accomplished racer, was on hand to announce the Safety Scholars program, an important new component to Firestone's comprehensive safety education project. Beginning in April, students across the country will be invited to visit the Web site to download safety information, but just as important, submit their ideas about the best way to educate young drivers about tire and driving safety. Students submitting the top ideas will win $2,500 college scholarships and laptop computers. Andretti is currently featured in a series of Firestone television commercials regarding tire safety and has been traveling the country on behalf of the company urging students to learn their "M.A.R.I.O.S." (Mario Andretti's Real Information on Safety).

"We can think of no better person than Mario Andretti to spread the message of tire and driver safety," said John Gamauf, president of consumer tire replacement sales, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT). "We are proud that he is joining us in our effort to tap into the ideas and experiences of new drivers to help spread our safety message."

Other friends from the racing community will be stopping by the Bridgestone Americas booth as well. During First Look for Charity, 2005 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon will be on hand, showcasing both his Indy 500-winning race car as well as his new 2006 vehicle. On Feb. 10 and 11 from 10-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m., Susan Robertson, the fastest woman on a motorcycle and one of only two women to exceed the 200-mph land speed mark, will appear at the booth to sign autographs. The Bridgestone tire-equipped motorcycle she revved into the history books will be displayed throughout the show.

Also making an appearance is former University of Illinois All American Brad Hopkins, a two-time Pro-Bowler for the Tennessee Titans. Hopkins will be at the Bridgestone Americas booth on Friday, Feb. 10 from noon-1:30 p.m. and from 5-6:30 p.m.

The company's successes in racing, as well as its commitment to driver safety and education, have led to a steady stream of new products that incorporate the latest technology for superior performance, looks and safety. The Bridgestone Americas booth will become a stage for launching the following new products during the show:

    Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport
For drivers who want the thrill and handling of a sports car and the comfort and presence of their SUV or light truck, this is what you've been looking for.
    Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R
If you have a need for speed, this extreme, max ultra high performance summer tire is the tire that truly brings the technology from the racetrack to your vehicle.
    Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position
This is the perfect tire for the ultra high performance enthusiast on a summer drive... across town or across the finish line.
    Potenza RE960AS Pole Position
With the advantages of all-season capability in an ultra high performance tire, it provides the features you need with the style you crave.
    Firestone FR710
Larger sizes and wider footprints are in high demand in today's tire market, and the newest extension of the Firestone family of tires ensures that consumers can be on the cutting edge of that trend.
    Fuzion XTi
Drivers who love to personalize their tires and vehicles with the hippest after-market products they can find now have the ability to transform a vehicle's entire look with the turn of a tattooed tire.

The Bridgestone Americas booth (NH1) will feature all of this in a stunning exhibit at this year's Chicago Auto Show, which opens to the public Feb. 10-19.

About Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc.:

Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. (BSAH) is the U.S. subsidiary of the Bridgestone Corporation, the world's largest tire and rubber company. BSAH and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies also produce air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial fibers and textiles and operate the world's largest chain of automotive tire and service centers.

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