2021 Sponsor Profile: Pirelli

With a storied history in the world of motorsport, the Pirelli Tire Company have been a proud partner of the Canadian Touring Car Championship for over five years. 

Becoming the official tire of the CTCC in 2015, Pirelli also became the official presenting sponsor of the championship creating the CTCC presented by Pirelli. The deal was renewed in 2021 for another five years, after a successful first half decade.

The company’s motorsport heritage is one rivaled by only few, with Formula One, the World Rally Championship and the World Superbike Challenge all being exclusively supplied by the Italian tire giant. 

 As we continue to highlight the involvement and the history of the CTCC’s partners, this piece aims to show where the brand has come from and shine some light on the man responsible for their involvement in the series, Orazio Mastracchio. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how Pirelli became who they are today and what lead them to becoming a series sponsor. 

Started in 1872 by Giovanni Pirelli, the company’s first product was actually rubber bands for carriages. The first tire didn’t come around until 1894, but due to the high number of innovations being discovered around the time it made the company a quick leader in the tire scene. 

Motorsports quickly became something near and dear to the Pirelli company, this was mainly due to the company’s growing global expansion. The first major win in motorsport for Pirelli came in 1907, where the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France was won by a driver with Pirelli tires.

Following World War II, the company revamped to focus more on racing and fast cars. The Superflex Stella Bianca was released and quickly became a hit in Italy, and by 1949 a new tire called the Cinturato hit the streets and became the company’s first radial tire. 

In 1950, Giuseppe Farina made history winning the inaugural F1 World Championship driving on Pirelli tires. Pirelli’s first stint last until 1958, where the tire manufacturer went on a hiatus until 1981. That second stint lasted a further 10 years, where in 1991 they bowed out of the sport. Pirelli once again became the official and this time sole supplier of tires to F1 in 2011, following a long tire war between Michelin and Bridgestone. Pirelli’s 400th race in F1 took place at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, nearly 60 years after race number one. 

Over the course of the 60s, 70s and 80s, Pirelli saw massive growth. Opening up three new plants Pirelli acquired two German companies Veith Gummiwerke and Metzeler Kaotscuck AG. Two very popular brands at the time, the acquisition helped the company achieve better corporate positioning. To close out the 80s, Pirelli bought the Armstrong Tyre Company planting their foot into the North American market. 

After an economic recession in the 90s, Pirelli was forced to be reorganized. By the end of the millennium, the company purchased the Alexandria Tire Company who were one of Pirelli’s Egyptian licensees. This acquisition helped the company create radial tires for busses and trucks. 

Pirelli entered the 2000s with force. With the purchase of some shares in Telecom Italia, Pirelli started to branch out further than just tires. In 2001, the company created their own MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotized System) technology to help increase and streamline the tire making process . Two years later,  the very first CCM (Continuous Compound Mixing) technology room was created to test and prefect more tire compounds. 

After getting rid of its telecommunications, real estate and broadband solutions divisions, Pirelli became a pure tire company once again. Pirelli would also start their own foundation in order preserve the company’s history as an integral part of the country of Italy’s heritage. 

After roughly two years of restructuring, the Marco Polo Group eventually became the sole shareholders of Pirelli who own 52% of the company. Pirelli returned to the stock exchange on October 4, 2017 with multiple separations including the industrial and consumer branches, with new branches being created (Consumer Marketing, Digital, Data Science, Cyber and Velo).

Pirelli got involved with the CTCC in 2015, the partnership made perfect sense as the Canadian market was somewhat of a mystery for them.  

“We are very big in the United States and other parts of the world,” Mastracchio said. “We had some involvement in Canada with the Porsche Rothman’s Cup and the Toyota Echo Cup especially in Quebec, but the only professional racing series in Canada that was interesting to us was the CTCC.”

Mastracchio’s favourite CTCC track is the road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, which he loves for the aggression of the drivers and the talent they show. “Mosport is paradise,” he added “ The races there are very exciting, the competition is very aggressive and in the CTCC a lot of good drivers come out to race.” 

Being a racing fan since he was a kid, he grew up with motorsport in his family as one of his dad’s friends was a racer in Formula Atlantic. However his involvement in motorsport dates back to his early days in Formula 1600. 

“I was a crew chief in Formula 1600 and that’s how I ended up in the motorsport world,” Mastracchio said. “ I started working at Pirelli in 1998 and about eight years ago I got the opportunity to work full-time managing motorsport for Pirelli. I didn’t even blink, I just took the chance.” 

Mastracchio and Pirelli’s involvement with the series has been paramount in the national and worldwide growth of the sport. With a long history like Pirelli’s, it gives fans an opportunity to see the brand on not just road but their favourite driver’s car. 

With Pirelli extending their deal to another five years, the CTCC presented by Pirelli looks forward to an amazing future. 

“I love to be at the race track and be there in the middle of the action,” Mastracchio concluded. “I manage everything from logistics to what fit goes on each car, I work with R&D in Europe to make sure the teams are running proper set ups. Last year I travelled, but I do miss the hands on onsite experiences, talking to the drivers and reporting back. So I’m excited to get back to the race track this season.”

Written by Alex Gallacher/ CTCC Communications