After a thrilling 24 Hours of Le Mans, the FIA World Endurance Championship heads to Monza. For Goodyear, this is a landmark event as it coincides with the company’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
In addition to the tires and trackside branding having a dash of 1898 style in their branding, Goodyear will celebrate its long history of racing success at Monza, as well as looking forward to a new era with LMGT3 from 2024.
Since its first Indycar victory in 1913, Goodyear has become the most successful tire company across motorsport disciplines as diverse as Formula 1, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and NASCAR. The global reach of Goodyear was encapsulated by the Garage 56 entry at Le Mans last month, bringing together the company’s activities in NASCAR and WEC into a project that won the hearts and minds of fans across the world.
Between 1965 and 1998, Goodyear amassed 368 Formula 1 Grand Prix victories, a record that still stands today, but the company is also proud of its history in endurance racing. In the forerunners of today’s WEC, such as the World Sportscar Championship or Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Goodyear used long-distance racing as a place to innovate and develop new technologies.
The home of the Italian F1 Grand Prix has been a regular feature on these international endurance championship calendars for over half a century. From 1965 to 1969, the event used a combination of Monza’s F1 circuit and the fearsome banked oval to create an ultra high speed 10 km lap. This era coincided with Goodyear’s move from American racing into world championship motorsport, so a circuit that added Daytona-style banking to the traditional Monza lap was the perfect proving ground for Goodyear.
In 1970, the banking ceased to be used, but Monza was still a flat out slipstreaming circuit that tested mechanical reliability and tire durability. Goodyear was supplying tires to the leading Porsche, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo teams, winning the Monza round of the world championships with all three manufacturers during this decade.
The circuit was slowed in 1972 with the addition of chicanes, but this added to the demands on a tire manufacturer. Traction and braking performance become as important as high speed durability and stability. The first chicane, the Variante del Rettifilo, was renamed the Variante Goodyear during the 1980s and 1990s, with the high kerbs and rapid direction changes testing tires to the maximum for 1000 km or six hours of racing. However, when Goodyear teams were testing for Le Mans, the chicane was often bypassed as the ‘old-style’ Monza allowed tire testing at Mulsanne Straight speeds.
Ben Crawley, Goodyear EMEA Motorsport Director: « Monza has so many special moments in Goodyear’s 125-year history. It’s a privilege to race at one of the most historic circuits in the world that still tests tires at incredible speeds. We hope the fans enjoy our historic branding, as we reflect on our favourite Monza moments. »
Five Goodyear magical Monza moments:
1973: Ferrari switched to Goodyear for the World Championship for Makes (a forerunner of WEC). Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman took victory at the Monza 1000km in the glorious 312PB.
1975: Alfa Romeo followed suit in switching to Goodyear, and Arturo Merzario and Jacques Laffite won in the Alfa Romeo T33/TT12.
1976: Niki Lauda returned from his horrific Nürburgring accident in a Monza F1 Grand Prix immortalised in the movie Rush. Lauda takes his Ferrari to a heroic fourth place, in a race won by fellow Goodyear driver Ronnie Peterson.
1988: Ayrton Senna collided with a backmarker at the Variante Goodyear in the Italian Grand Prix, denying the McLaren-Honda team a 100% clean sweep of wins that year. The fans were overjoyed as Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto took an emotional one-two in front of the Tifosi, less than a month after Enzo Ferrari’s death.
2021: United Autosport took an overall podium and LMP2 victory in the WEC Monza round, in part thanks to the speed and endurance of their Goodyear tires. Philip Hanson, Fabio Scherer and Filipe Albuquerque tasted the champagne as world-class endurance racing returned to Monza after a 13-year gap.