- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

A century ago the fledgling auto industry was just gearing up. Nobody at that time even knew what a car should be. Countless inventors and entrepreneurs have been responsible for bringing the industry to this point.
On Aug. 3, 1900, one of the great men of the new and growing auto industry founded a company called Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. At first, Harvey S. Firestone's company only sold tires made by other manufacturers. Because he wanted a better tire than he could buy, in 1903 the company manufactured its first set of rubber tires.
The following year Firestone Tire & Rubber Company designed its first set of pneumatic tires as an alternative to the solid rubber tire because it gave vehicles a much smoother ride.
Firestone quickly realized the potential and in 1906 he contacted Henry Ford about supplying pneumatic tires for Ford automobiles. Ford agreed, purchasing 2,000 sets of tires.
The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company grew as the automobile industry grew, and over the years the company branched into different divisions and developed various products and services.
Firestone also positioned his company as a major player in the world of racing as he realized the potential marketing benefits that could come from motorsports. "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" became the motto for Firestone as he became more and more determined to show the world that Firestone tires were better than the competition's.
In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500-mile race was run and Firestone tires were on the winning car. Since then, Firestone-equipped racers have maintained a strong presence in racing. From 1920 through 1966, every winner at the Indy 500 had one thing in common Firestone tires.
"My great-grandfather can be credited with using racing as a marketing medium," said Nick Firestone. "He was one of the first persons to recognize the potential marketing and testing benefits that come from motorsports."
The Firestone brand continues to excel in the top forms of U.S.-based open-wheel competition. After a 20-year hiatus from Indy and Champ car racing, Firestone returned to competition in 1995. Since that re-entry, drivers on Firestone tires have won three Indy Racing League driver's championships and four Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) driver's titles. The 1998 and 1999 CART seasons were especially impressive, with Firestone-equipped CART drivers winning 37 of 39 races.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. is celebrating 100 years of innovation that began in 1900. Happy Birthday to Firestone and thanks to its founder for his great leadership and entrepreneurial foresight that has provided us with 100 years of fun and safe driving.
Mr. Firestone and his good friend Henry Ford share one other title, that of great-grandfather. Their shared great-grandson is William Clay Ford Jr., chairman of the board of Ford Motor Company.

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