From F1 domination to Le Mans wins: Goodyear celebrates motorsport success on its 125th anniversary
With more F1 Grand Prix wins than any other tire manufacturer, through to decades of success in NASCAR and endurance racing, Goodyear highlights the tire technology milestones in its illustrious Le Mans history.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans has created many golden moments for the Goodyear family of brands, holding the record of 49 overall combined victories for Goodyear, Dunlop and Avon. The 100th anniversary of the endurance classic coincides with another momentous milestone; the 125th anniversary of Goodyear. From truck racing to NASCAR, from Formula 1 to Le Mans, Goodyear has had a deep involvement in global motorsport for much of this time, including accolades such as more Formula 1 wins than any other tire manufacturer, an impressive run of outright wins at Le Mans, and a record-breaking partnership with NASCAR.
Le Mans glory
The magic of Hollywood brought the 1966 ‘Ford vs Ferrari’ battle to the big screen recently. The captivating story of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon taking victory in a race that put Ford on the global motorsport map, driven by Ford leadership’s desire to beat Ferrari. The fact that Ford switched to Goodyear during the race brought additional spice to the story, emphasizing how crucial tire performance is at Le Mans.
But it was a year earlier that Goodyear took its first Le Mans win, fitted to a Ferrari. The North American Racing Team (NART), run by US Ferrari importer and three-time Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti, chose American Goodyear tires and this played a role in the outcome. Despite losing an hour in the pits with electrical issues, the pace of Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt moved them relentlessly up the order. It was the first win by a privateer since 1957 and the first Le Mans victory for Goodyear tires, in the same year that Goodyear entered Formula 1.
1965 Tire Tech: Goodyear tires had a distinctive tread pattern in this era. It wasn’t just for all-weather performance, but it gave the driver more progressive feedback in an era when downforce was lower, and cars could drift gracefully.
After winning with Ferrari and Ford, four years later Goodyear played an important role in Porsche’s first Le Mans win. The legendary German car brand clinched its first Le Mans in 1970, when the svelte 917K took a dominant win by five laps. Hans Herrmann and Dickie Attwood were piloting the fearsome Porsche, tamed by a bespoke Goodyear tire design in a race of ever-changing weather.
1970 Tire Tech: The bias ply design had an inherent advantage for racing due to its ease of car control at the limit of adhesion. Tuning this Goodyear tire for the 917K started a close relationship between Porsche and Goodyear for the next era of endurance racing.
Goodyear then became the dominant tire of Le Mans, taking eight wins in the decade that followed. Matra Simca powered to glory three times on Goodyear, using Le Mans to show the might of the French automotive industry on home ground. One of those wins was particularly special for Graham Hill. The 1962 and 1968 Formula 1 World Champion was still a Grand Prix regular, but there was another goal that kept his ambition burning. Five Monaco wins and his 1966 Indy win meant the ‘Triple Crown’, adding a Le Mans win to his legacy, was within reach. It was on his tenth and final 24 Hours attempt when, partnered with Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo, he won for Matra on Goodyear tires.
The Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indianapolis 500. Three of the biggest sporting events in the world. To win all three proves a driver’s versatility, but only Hill has managed to achieve the Triple Crown. From a tire industry perspective, all three iconic events have been won many times on Goodyear, underlining the scale of the company’s global motorsport history.
A legend of Le Mans is Jacky Ickx, and Goodyear was chosen for his first win with Mirage in 1975 and the start of his winning streak with Porsche a year later.
1970s Tire Tech: In both F1 and sports car racing, engineers discovered a magic formula called downforce. Aerospace innovations thrust the pace forward, including the upturned wings that forced a car’s tires into the ground, massively improving cornering grip. The forces were unlike anything a racing tire manufacturer had experienced before, but Goodyear moved up a gear to respond. Slicks replaced treaded tires and the contact patch now matched the downforce levels.
The 1980s saw the introduction of the Group C formula. Enormous tunnels under the car, with a vacuum-creating ‘venturi’ effect further increased the downforce. Iconic cars such as the Porsche 956 and 962 won on Goodyear in sports car events around the world, and 1990 brought a Le Mans win with Jaguar. The epic seven-litre V12 powered the Jaguar to 368 km/h (229 mph) which, coupled with F1 levels of downforce, brought new opportunities for Goodyear to introduce technology already proven on its road tires.
1980s Tire Tech: Radial tire construction was adopted for Goodyear racing tires. The move to larger diameter wheels in endurance racing reflected the trend in roadgoing supercars, and the massive downforce required incredibly precise handling from a tire that could withstand the immense forces generated in fast corners.
Goodyear’s success record with Porsche continued through to the nineties, with three further victories including another legend, Tom Kristensen, taking his first win with Goodyear and Porsche in 1997. Goodyear then focused on NASCAR and other categories of racing, before returning to endurance racing in 2020 in the LMP2 category.
Today’s Tire Tech: Back in 1997, Goodyear brought special tires for qualifying and a range of possible race conditions. It showcased innovation and ambition in an era of excess and bottomless manufacturer budgets. Last year, Jota won the LMP2 class at Le Mans, with less power than the 1997 overall winner using a single dry specification of Goodyear tire giving versatile performance whatever the temperature. They went 108 km further in 24 hours than the 1997 overall winner, on less fuel and on fewer tires, demonstrating LMP2 is a more sustainable form of racing, making it such a relevant challenge for Goodyear.
Beyond Le Mans: Global success, born in the USA
From the dawn of motoring, Goodyear considered that motorsport is a place to learn and develop something that remains true today and at the core of Goodyear Racing’s philosophy. Goodyear’s first foray into racing, and its first victory, came when Henry Ford chose Goodyear for his car that won a Detroit Driving Club race in 1901.
In the 1919 Indianapolis 500, the 100 mph barrier was broken by Howdy Wilcox, who took his Peugeot to victory on Goodyear. Another eight of the top ten finishers used the Akronmade tires. Two of the drivers completed the 500 miles on one set of Goodyear tires, reflecting the drive for performance and durability that is core to Goodyear’s principles.
From NASCAR to the world
In the 1950s, Goodyear stormed into the stock car arena with the huge growth of the championship now known as NASCAR. The first Daytona 500 win was in 1960, and by 1962 more NASCAR race winners chose Goodyear than any other tire.
In Formula 1, Richie Ginther put the Goodyear name in the winning record books in the same year as Gregory and Rindt did the same at Le Mans. Tire manufacturers vied for honors in the period that followed, making tire development as key to success as engine and chassis technology. In 1971 and 1973, Jackie Stewart and Tyrrell worked closely with Goodyear to dominate in this fearsome era. Stewart retired at the end of 1973 but worked closely with Goodyear to develop road tires for many years after.
From 1973 to 1977, in a period of open tire competition, every Grand Prix was won on Goodyear. Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and James Hunt joined Goodyear’s world championship winners’ hall of fame. Into the 1980s, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were Goodyear’s turbo titans in an era of searing power and bitter driver rivalries. Into the 1990s, Michael Schumacher was the master, taking his first two championships in a Goodyear-shod Benetton before the all-conquering Williams team wrapped up Goodyear’s three decades of F1 domination with titles for Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
Between 1965 and 1998, Goodyear amassed 368 Formula 1 Grand Prix victories, a record that still stands today. Now, Goodyear competes in a range of intensely competitive international championships, from the FIA World Endurance Championship, featuring the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. The NASCAR partnership continues as one of the longest lasting sporting co-operations in history, with Goodyear having been a trusted partner for almost seven decades. The 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans brings together Goodyear’s worlds of NASCAR and Le Mans with the innovative Garage 56 project.
Goodyear’s Le Mans Hall of Fame
|Year||Drivers||Car||Distance travelled||Tire manufacturer|
Frank Clement/John Duff
Bentley 3 Litre Sport
Gérard de Courcelles/ André Rossignol
Robert Bloch / André Rossignol
Dudley Benjafield/Sammy Davis
Bentley 3 Litre Speed
Woolf Barnato/Bernard Rubin
Bentley 4½ Litre 2669.27km
Woolf Barnato/Henry Birkin
Bentley Speed Six
Woolf Barnato/Glen Kidston
Bentley Speed Six
Henry Birkin/Earl Howe
Alfa Romeo 8C2300 LM
Luis Fontés/Johnny Hindmarsh
Lagonda M45R Rapide
Robert Benoist/Jean Pierre Wimille
Bugatti Type 57G Tank
Eugène Chaboud/Jean Trémoulet
Pierre Veyron/ Jean Pierre Wimille
Bugatti Type 57S Tank
Jean Louis Rosier/Louis Rosier
Talbot Lago Grand Sport T26
Peter Walker/Peter Whitehead
Duncan Hamilton/Tony Rolt
Ivor Bueb/Mike Hawthorn
Ron Flockhart/Ninian Sanderson
Ivor Bueb/Ron Flockhart
Roy Salvadori/Caroll Shelby
Aston Martin DBR1/300
Paul Frère/Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari 250 TR59/60
Olivier Gendebien/Phil Hill
Ferrari 250 TRI/61
Olivier Gendebien/Phil Hill
Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spyder
Lorenzo Bandini/Ludovico Scarfiotti
Ferrari 250 P
Jean Guichet/ Nino Vaccarella
Ferrari 275 P
Jochen Rindt /Masten Gregory/ Ed Hugus
Ferrari 250 LM
Bruce McLaren / Chris Amon
Ford GT40 Mk. II
Dan Gurney / A. J. Foyt
Ford GT40 Mk. IV
Hans Herrmann / Richard Attwood
Henri Pescarolo / Graham Hill
Henri Pescarolo / Gérard Larrousse
Henri Pescarolo / Gérard Larrousse
Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell
Mirage GR8 Ford Cosworth
Jacky Ickx / Gijs van Lennep
Jürgen Barth/Hurley Haywood/Jacky Ickx
Porsche 936/77 Spyder
Klaus Ludwig/Bill Whittington/Don Whittington
Porsche 935 K3
Jean Rondeau / Jean Pierre Jaussaud
Derek Bell/ Jacky Ickx
Derek Bell/Jacky Ickx
Hurley Haywood/Al Holbert/Vern Schuppan
Klaus Ludwig/Henri Pescarolo
Paolo Barilla/Klaus Ludwig/John Winter
Derek Bell/Al Holbert/Hans-Joachim Stuck
Derek Bell/Al Holbert/Hans-Joachim Stuck
Johnny Dumfries/Jan Lammers/Andy Wallace
John Nielsen / Price Cobb / Martin Brundle
Bertrand Gachot/Johnny Herbert/Volker Weidler
Yannick Dalmas / Hurley Haywood / Mauro Baldi
Porsche Dauer 962
Manuel Reuter / Davy Jones / Alexander Wurz
Michele Alboreto / Stefan Johansson / Tom Kristensen
Goodyear’s Greatest Motorsport Moments
1901 Goodyear’s first foray into racing, and its first victory, came when Henry Ford chose Goodyear for his car that won a Detroit Driving Club race
1913 Charlie Stutz used Goodyear experimental tires to take the podium in the Indianapolis 500
1919 The 100 mph barrier was broken at Indianapolis by Howdy Wilcox, who took his Peugeot to victory on Goodyear
1954 Goodyear begins racing with NASCAR
1960 The first Daytona 500 win on Goodyear
1960 Goodyear won its first international sports car race with Stirling Moss and Maserati at the Grand Prix of Cuba.
1965 Goodyear enters Formula 1, winning the Mexican GP with Richie Ginther and Honda.
1965 Goodyear’s first Le Mans win, with Ferrari
1965 Craig Breedlove's rocket powered car, on Goodyear, becomes the first land based vehicle to surpass 600 mph.
1966 Goodyear wins its first Formula 1 world championship with Jack Brabham
1966 The iconic Ford GT40 wins with Goodyear at Le Mans '66
1970 Porsche wins its first Le Mans with the legendary 917 and Goodyear
1970 Goodyear wins at the Nürburgring Nordschleife for the first time as Vic Elford and Kurt Ahrens win for Porsche
1973 Every Formula 1 Grand Prix is won on Goodyear
1976 Goodyear and NASCAR race at Le Mans
1987 Gerhard Berger collects Goodyear's 200th F1 Grand Prix victory when he wins in Adelaide
1991 Ayrton Senna and McLaren win at Interlagos and give Goodyear its 250th F1 Grand Prix victory
1994 Damon Hill and Williams take Goodyear’s 300th F1 Grand Prix win at Barcelona
1997 Jacques Villeneuve wins Goodyear’s 350th F1 Grand Prix win at Barcelona
2020 Goodyear returns to Le Mans
2020 Goodyear appointed tire partner to the British and World Touring Car Championships
2022 The pinnacle of truck racing becomes the FIA Goodyear European Truck Racing Championship
2023 NASCAR races at Le Mans for the first time since 1976, with Goodyear
2023 Goodyear selected as LMGT3 supplier for the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series from 2024
About The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 74,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.