IndyCar confirms recycled plastics in Indy 500 tyres

Synthetic rubber will be used in all 4,500 tyres supplied for practice, qualifying and race day.

IndyCar has confirmed the use of recycled plastics in the 4,500 tyres supplied to this weekend’s Indy 500.

Confirmed:

  • Synthetic rubber to be used in all 4,500 tyres across practice, qualifying and race day
  • Tyres are created from a monomer produced with recycled post-consumer plastic waste, such as used plastic shopping bags, film, stretch wrap and other flexible polymer packaging

Context: While this move was announced previously, there was some doubt raised when a change to a recycled source for the ingredient pushed back Indy 500 tyre production closer to January.

Comment: Cara Krstolic, director, race tire engineering and manufacturing, chief engineer, motorsports at Bridgestone Americas, said: “When we build a tyre, there are certain compounds that we need to make sure that are exactly the same. So, we monitor recipes and monitor formulations, but when you're looking at something like butadiene, it doesn't come in and say: ‘I'm from a natural source. I'm from a sustainable source.’ It doesn't matter what it is. It’s just in there, and it's just a raw ingredient. If we were to change something … then it actually might be different with how it is. But because this is a monomer, it's basically a fundamental building block. It doesn't matter how it’s sourced.”

Consequence: The confirmation of this move may be specific to the Indy 500, but it highlights more progress in sustainability for IndyCar as a whole. Added to the guayule tyres being used at street races this season, the series is displaying a focus on tyres unlike any series around the world.

It also highlights the level of collaboration going on behind the scenes at IndyCar, with its two key partners in Shell and Firestone working together in order to make these Indy 500 tyres a reality.

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