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Bridgestone Firestone to sponsor drift competition series

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Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) announced at the 2005 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas that the Bridgestone brand will be a sponsor of the 2006 Need for Speed Formula Drift (Formula D) Championship Series.

The company also will be offering a contingency program to Formula D drivers.

"Formula D is the preeminent drift series in the United States, and they have achieved this status through tremendous dedication and hard work," said Phil Pacsi, executive director, North American consumer tire brand marketing, BFNT.

"Bridgestone brand tires have been highly acclaimed in drifting events in Japan where the Bridgestone Corp. is a leading tire company in D1 Grand Prix drifting. We want to build on that excitement here by sponsoring Formula D and by offering what is the most lucrative contingency program available to its drivers."

BFNT will exhibit Bridgestone tire technology at 2006 Formula D events, including the new Bridgestone brand Potenza RE-01R tire for driving enthusiasts. The high performance street and track tire, introduced earlier at this year’s SEMA Show, delivers the advanced grip and handling performance essential in professional drift competition, the company says. It will be available beginning in April 2006 in 13 popular 16- to 19-inch, 30- to 55-series sizes.

Entering its third season, the Need for Speed Formula Drift Championship Series is the only officially sanctioned (by SCCA Pro Racing) and recognized North American professional drifting championship series.

Seven Formula D events are scheduled for 2006. Scheduled venues are: Long Beach, Calif.; Road Atlanta, Ga.; Soldier Field, Ill.; Infineon Raceway, Calif.; Evergreen Speedway, Wash.; Wall Speedway, N.J., and Irwindale Speedway, Calif.

To further showcase Bridgestone tire technology at these events, BFNT has extended a contingency program to Formula D drivers to encourage them to drive on Bridgestone brand tires.

At each event, BFNT will award prize money to Bridgestone-shod vehicles that finish in the top three places overall ($5,000 to first place, $3,000 to second place and $1,000 to third place). The highest finishing vehicle with Bridgestone tires, regardless of overall rank, will be awarded $1,000 ($750 to the second highest and $500 to the third highest).

At the end of the year, BFNT will award $7,000 if a vehicle with Bridgestone tires wins first place overall in the Formula D Championship Series ($5,000 to second place and $3,000 to third place). The highest finishing vehicle with Bridgestone tires, regardless of overall rank, will be awarded $3,000 ($2,000 to the second highest and $1,000 to the third highest).

In a related Formula D initiative, BFNT is sponsoring Tsukasa "Papa" Gushi of Team Gushi Auto in the 2006 Championship Series. Gushi will compete in a Team Kingpin Performance/Gushi Auto Subaru WRX STi shod with Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires.

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