Robert Pierce: Off-Road Racing Enthusiast and Business Mogul
Robert Pierce (April 29, 1959 – January 3, 2023) was a notable American figure known for his passion for off-road racing and his significant contributions to the business world. As the owner of Jimco Racing, former owner of MasterCraft Safety, and Impact Products, Pierce’s legacy extends far beyond the racetrack.
Early Life and Childhood
Robert Pierce’s journey began in the picturesque mountains east of San Diego in Southern California, where he spent his formative years. From the tender age of 5, he displayed a remarkable talent for hockey and was even scouted by professional hockey teams during his high school years. However, Pierce’s life took a different turn when he moved to Glenns Ferry, Idaho. It was here that he developed a deep-seated interest in metal fabrication and machinery, honing his skills working on heavy machinery used in farming and agriculture.
As fate would have it, the call of family and the allure of warm weather drew Pierce back to his Southern California roots.
Ventures in Business
Pierce’s experience in metal fabrication and machinery, acquired during his time in Idaho, proved invaluable. He established his small welding business, taking on a range of projects, including demanding ones for the aerospace industry. Notably, in 1985, his clientele expanded to include MasterCraft, an esteemed company in need of his welding expertise. Jack Miller, the founder of MasterCraft, enlisted Pierce to manufacture the company’s tubular seat frames.
In 1999, a pivotal moment in Pierce’s business journey occurred when he acquired MasterCraft from Jack Miller’s daughter, Peri. This marked the beginning of his remarkable ownership of the company.
Pierce’s business acumen led to further expansion. In 2008, he facilitated the acquisition of Ryan Safety by MasterCraft Safety, broadening their product offerings to include suspension seats, restraints, limit straps, and window nets. The company’s growth trajectory continued in 2010 when it acquired Impact Products from Bill Simpson. This diversification proved successful, and Pierce eventually sold Impact and MasterCraft to the renowned Italian safety conglomerate, Sparco, in June 2017.
Pioneering Off-Road Racing
While his achievements in the business world were substantial, Robert Pierce’s passion for off-road racing was equally noteworthy. His racing journey began in 2004 when he co-drove Tom Ridings’ Class 10 car at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, sparking his enduring love for the sport.
In 2005, Pierce acquired a ProTruck and debuted as the driver-of-record at the Best In The Desert TSCO Vegas to Reno race. Despite limited experience, he impressively finished 11th overall and fifth in class. Notably, in 2006, he secured a second-place finish in class at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
Pierce’s ascent continued as he transitioned to the prestigious Trophy Truck class, considered the pinnacle of off-road racing. Racing a modified ProTruck named the “Prophy” Truck, he demonstrated remarkable skills even though he faced a significant horsepower disadvantage. In 2008, he made his debut in his No. 30 Jimco Trophy Truck at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, finishing 5th overall. His crowning achievement was a second-place finish at the Terrible’s SCORE Primm 300 in 2010.
Beyond his impressive track record, Pierce was recognized for his contributions to the sport. He secured sixth place in SCORE Trophy Truck season points in 2009 and an impressive fourth place in 2010, earning him the title of SCORE Person of the Year.
Legacy and Passing
In addition to desert racing, Pierce ventured into short course racing in the LOORRS during the 2009 season. Despite a challenging year that included a harrowing crash resulting in two broken collarbones and several broken ribs, he finished the season in 15th place overall.
Tragically, while enjoying a scuba diving vacation in Bonaire, Robert Pierce passed away on January 3, 2023, at the age of 63. His contributions to both the business world and the realm of off-road racing continue to leave an indelible mark, honoring his legacy for generations to come.