For many Formula 1 and Le Mans fans of the seventies and eighties, the arrival of the Goodyear Blimp was a truly memorable moment. Since then, the iconic Goodyear Blimp has been a regular sight at NASCAR races. Some 35 years after the last race appearance on this side of the Atlantic, it will once again be seen at some of Europe’s most prestigious motorsport events this summer. It will celebrate Goodyear’s return to European and international motorsport by accompanying the tyre brand’s much-anticipated return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, before setting flight to the Nürburgring where it will accompany the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup races as part of the legendary Nürburgring 24 Hours race weekend.
The Goodyear Blimp is a globally recognised icon that has been an ambassador for the brand for almost a century. It has been present at historic sporting and cultural events and made its long-awaited return to Europe earlier this summer.
Mike Rytokoski, Chief Marketing Officer, Europe at Goodyear, said: “A true icon that has captured the imaginations of fans and consumers across the world for almost a century, the Goodyear Blimp is instantly recognisable. Its return to Europe is long-awaited and is the perfect way to celebrate our return to European and international motorsport.”
The Goodyear Blimp operating in Europe is a Goodyear-branded Zeppelin NT semi-rigid airship. This model is the largest semi-rigid airship in the world today, measuring 75 meters long, up to 19.5 meters wide, and 17.4 meters tall.
The Goodyear Blimp’s return to European motorsports events this September celebrates Goodyear’s return to European and international motorsport, which was announced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2019. Now, Goodyear is preparing for its first appearance at Le Mans since its comeback to top-level endurance racing. This is all further amplified by a high-profile media partnership with Eurosport, announced in December last year, that will include television and digital advertising across all European markets.
Flying overhead at Le Mans, the Goodyear Blimp will provide unique live TV aerial coverage of on-track action, exciting passenger flights for guests, and serve as an eye-catching brand ambassador for Goodyear. The Goodyear Blimp will also be present at the Nürburgring, again providing live TV aerial coverage of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup as part of the 24-hour race weekend. WTCR represents the top level of global touring car racing, in which Goodyear is the exclusive tyre supplier to every car.
The Goodyear Blimp that flies in Europe is the same model as the three Goodyear Blimps operated by Goodyear in the United States. These Blimps are often seen flying at major sporting events, such as NASCAR, for which Goodyear is the exclusive tire supplier, NBA games, American college football games and PGA golf events.
However, the Goodyear Blimp has an illustrious history in Europe, too. Between 1972 and 1986, a Goodyear Blimp named Europa appeared at a number of key events, from top-level sporting events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, German Grand Prix and French Open, to key cultural moments including two British royal weddings.
Celebrating Goodyear’s European and international racing return
The last 12 months has been a busy period for the Goodyear Racing team. Its maiden FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) campaign kicked off at Silverstone last September and will culminate at Bahrain in November, after Le Mans.
Goodyear is represented by two full-season teams in the LMP2 class, Jota Sport and Jackie Chan DC Racing, both of which have scored a number of podiums with Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport race tyres, including the win for Jota Sport at the 4 Hours of Shanghai last November. In the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), several LMP2 teams are racing on Goodyear tires, along with every car in the LMGTE class. As of 2021, Goodyear will be the exclusive tyre supplier to the LMP2 category in both WEC and ELMS.
“Endurance racing is highly valuable for Goodyear in developing leading tyre technologies,” Rytokoski continued, “our recently-launched Eagle F1 SuperSport range is closely related to the tyres racing at Le Mans and the Nürburgring and Goodyear’s new EfficientGrip Performance 2 tyre channels the spirit of endurance racing by providing motorists with an estimated 50% higher mileage than its predecessor1.”
In the exciting world of touring cars, Goodyear has this year been appointed exclusive tire supplier to both the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, the top level of international touring car racing, and the highly competitive British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). The BTCC season got underway in early August, while the WTCR campaign makes its delayed start in September.
Furthermore, Goodyear is also the official tyre supplier to PURE ETCR, the fascinating new electric touring car series that will get underway later this year with a series of demo events. The forward-thinking championship features the world’s most powerful touring cars, and Goodyear has developed a unique treaded version of its Eagle F1 SuperSport race tyre to help maximise performance from these rear-wheel-drive beasts.
These exciting European and global race programs are in addition to Goodyear’s well-established relationships with NASCAR and NHRA in North America. Goodyear’s relationship with NASCAR dates back to the 1950s, and it has been the exclusive tyre supplier to NASCAR’s top three national race series since 1997.
1 Internal test. Compared to predecessor EfficientGrip Performance. Tire size: 205/55R16 91V; Car: VW Golf 7; Location: open roads in Luxembourg and France