PLYMOUTH — Robert “Bob” Newton, 85, co- founder of Hoosier Racing Tire, died Wednesday afternoon, after a year of dealing with the effects of a stroke.
While it’s well known that Newton is the visionary behind the largest manufacturer of racing tires in the world, what most will remember about Newton is the heart he had for his local community.
“He and (his wife) Joyce were, and are, phenomenal people,” Hoosier Tire employee Irish Saunders said Thursday. “They did so much for people behind the scenes and never wanted their name out in public.”
Saunders began working with Newton in the early 1980s, and considered him a mentor.
“I’ve known him all my life,” said Saunders. “He did a lot of things for me and always wanted to make sure everything was first class. He taught us all very well.”
Plymouth mayor Mark Senter said that he too will miss the influence of Newton.
“I have known Bob since the late 1980s,” said Senter. “We both served in the Lakeville Lions Club at one time and went to the same church. Bob was a self-made man with a heart of gold. I love to see the Hoosier name at racing tracks worldwide, knowing those tires were manufactured right here in Plymouth and it was all Bob’s doing. He has had major influence on many of NASCAR’s finest and he will be missed.”
A press release on the Hoosier Tire website states: “Bob and Joyce’s passion and energy are the source of the success of Hoosier Racing Tire. Their drive helped build a company that touched and enriched so many of our lives. Bob leaves behind a company that only he could have been instrumental in helping to build, and his soul will forever be the foundation of Hoosier Racing Tire as we continue to grow and prosper.”
Saunders said he has no doubt that the legacy Newton built will continue, due in part to the strength of Joyce Newton.
“Joyce is a rock,” said Saunders. “She held everything together and the company will go on.”
Newton will also be remembered for renovating the former Lakeville High School and making it a multi-use community center the “Newton Center” for all to enjoy.
According to the Newton Park Twitter page, funeral arrangements for Newton are as follows: Viewing Monday October 1, 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at The Newton Center, Lakeville. Funeral Tuesday, October 2, 10 a.m. at The Newton Center then burial at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, 375 West Cleveland Road, Granger.
An album containing various photos of Newton has also been posted on the page, www.twitter.com/aplaceforkids