Hoosier Tire founder Bob Newton passed away Wednesday at the age of 84. For more than 50 years, he was the face behind one of America's most prominent race tire companies.
A native Indianan, the story for Newton began in the 1950s when he and wife Joyce raced on northern Indiana short tracks. They didn't feel satisfied with their tire compounds or balance at the time and come 1957 was when Newton created his first set of racing tires, re-treading street tires with softer compounds. "Hoosier" came to light as a name given the Indiana roots, out of a barn in South Bend.
The company expanded steadily for more than 20 years, but was faced with possibly closing in 1978. Hoosier had a prior arrangement with Mohawk Rubber Company in Akron, which began in 1962, but ended in '78 when the Akron plant was shuttered.
Thanks to enough capital and taking out a mortgage on their home, Bob and Joyce Newton were able to create a factory built for the sole production of racing tires - known at the time as R&J Mfg. Corp. (for Robert and Joyce).
Hoosier was able to grow further throughout the 1980s, making all tires in house by 1985 and making into NASCAR's Grand National ranks in the early 1990s. It moved up to Winston Cup by 1994 and won four races with Geoff Bodine.
Although they were phased out of Cup by rising costs, that didn't limit Hoosier's involvement - steady time in ARCA and the World of Outlaws kept Hoosier more than afloat and going. Both Bob and Joyce remained active in the day-to-day operations of the largest race tire manufacturer in the world.