We are saddened today to learn of the passing of an auto racing icon, Hoosier Tire co-founder Robert “Bob” Newton. Newton passed away peacefully in his Indiana home Wednesday with his wife and family at his side, he was eighty five years old. For the past couple years Newton had struggled with health issues related to a stroke he suffered in 2011. Bob Newton leaves behind a legacy and story of not just a great American business success but of a man who loved his family, and gave back to his community.
Newton began as many in the racing and performance industry do, as a racer himself. Not satisfied with the tires available at the time, he and wife Joyce started their tire company in a barn in South Bend, Indiana way back in 1957. That small operation went from recapping tires using a softer compound to eventually becoming the only tire manufacturing plant dedicated solely to the construction of race tires.
The Newtons led the company to overcome adversity in the late 70s when Bob and Joyce mortgaged their own home to save the struggling business and by 1985 the company was manufacturing all of its tires in house.
The Newton’s investment and dedication to their business paid off, by the early 1990s the company’s tires had made it to both of the major NASCAR series, Grand National and Winston Cup. While they were eventually phased out of the big show by rising costs, they did manage four wins in the fabled Cup series with driver Geoff Bodine. Hoosier has continued their racing involvement participating in ARCA, the World of Outlaws, SCCA, kart racing and drag racing as well.
Giving back to the community, the Newton’s were the primary donors for both the Newton Park and the Newton Center. The park features a kid friendly environment with ball fields, walking paths, as well as a playground, and a picnic area.
The Newton center is housed in the old Lakeville High School building where the Newtons purchased the property in 1989 and led a renovation effort. Today the building serves as a multi-use community center and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bob Newton will be missed by the racing world, the community he lived in, and his family whom he loved above all else. He is survived by his wife Joyce, their four children and multiple grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to friends and family.