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Racing Icon, And Safety Pioneer Bill Simpson Passes Away At 79 Years Old

It’s simply crazy how much impact one person can have on a community. When we take one walk around the pits of any race track, dirt or asphalt, there will be plenty of gear with the “Simpson” name. It simply became the state of the union that Simpson is synonymous with safety. The company provides some of the most quality safety gear in all of racing. We’re sure that they have managed to save countless lives in their pursuit of a safe racing experience.

We regret to inform you, though, that Bill Simpson passed away at 79 on December 16, 2019.

A Racing Heritage

Before developing safety gear, Bill was a racer just like those that he would go on to serve. Simpson started off his career in drag racing and SCCA Formula racing. This would eventually snowball to the USAC Championship Car Series. He would race there for eight seasons with 52 career starts. His racing career would come to a close in 1977.

Bill’s First thought About Safety

It is believed that Simpson started to think about safety around the age of 18. After an accident that would break both of his arms, he couldn’t help but ponder the topic. In the moment, Simpson acknowledged that he, like many other racers, only began to think about safety after he got hurt. This is a common phenomenon as safety seems to be one of the last expenditures on racing machines when maybe it should be the first.

(Photo: IMS Motorsport Museum)

Business Growing Pains

His business of racing safety would actually begin in parachutes. With help from his uncle who owned a military surplus store, he would create the first parachute for racing. Upon testing the unit, he would discover that it was too big and it sent the car flying. They would be sent to jail for the stunt but it would give birth to something much bigger than that situation. Before long, the business evolved into all sorts of other components that we know the brand to produce today. They would even lay claim to being the first to produce a full firesuit.

Needless to say, Bill Simpson’s mark has been left on the racing industry.