LAKEVILLE, Ind.—Robert “Bob” Newton, Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. founder, died Sept. 26 at his home near Lakeville.
Newton, 85, had been dealing with the effects of a stroke he suffered in 2011, according to a statement posted by Hoosier Racing Tire on its website. “Bob died peacefully at home, surrounded by family members,” including his wife, Joyce, the notice said.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served in Germany following World War II, Newton was an aspiring racer in his own right in the 1950s. He co-founded Hoosier Racing Tire in 1957 with his wife, Joyce, after being frustrated by the quality of race tires available then.
The Newtons started out retreading tires for racing, then got into the new race tire business in 1961 in partnership with Mohawk Rubber Co. of Akron, which up to that point had provided Hoosier Tire with tread rubber. The partnership lasted until 1978, when Mohawk closed its Akron plant.
In 1979 the Newtons built a factory in Plymouth, Ind., considered the first and only manufacturing operation designed to make tires exclusively for motorsports applications. The Newtons opened a second facility in 1992 for radial tires.
Today the company makes race tires for a wide range of motorsports series, ranging from dirt-track go-karts to high-speed endurance road racing to top-level drag racing. The company challenged Goodyear in NASCAR's top level for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The privately held company employs a few hundred workers in Lakeville and nearby Plymouth.