By Michael Eubanks
Most race fans may have not heard the name Troy Simmons before, but they have certainly seen his product on the track.
Simmons has spent a lifetime around motorsport. Motorsport tires to be exact. A 30-year industry veteran, Simmons is the CEO/Director of sales of XtremeTM, an Oregon-based company that is the official distributor of Cooper racing tires for the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system (Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000) as well as the American Rally Association and Americas Rallycross.
Every team competing in the aforementioned series purchases tires directly from XtremeTM, meaning many future IndyCar Series stars such as Colton Herta and 2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward, as well as ARX Rallycross stars like Scott Speed, Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana have all raced on tires sold by Simmons.
Not Your Average Racing Blog spoke with Simmons to ask him more about his unique role in the racing community.
You’ve worked in Motorsports for over 30 years. Has it always been open-wheel and off-road racing?
“Up until 2015, my primary focus was road racing with Porsches, BMWs and Ferraris, and then also [I have] a lot of background in Baja [off-road racing]. Since 2015 with XtremeTM it’s been primarily road racing up until this year when my project was to help develop the Cooper Tires rally tire market in North America”.
Does XtremeTM provide tires for other racing series?
“The tires are available to just about any road racing or off-road racing series out there. The Mazda Road to Indy is a spec tire, so you have to purchase Cooper tires to participate, but all of the other clubs – SCCA, NASA, SVRA – for example, you can purchase our tires and race them”.
Have you met a lot of the big names that compete in the sport?
“Over the years, yes I have. They’re all good people. We’re like one big family if you think about it. We live together on the road and in hotels, sometimes we stay at each other’s homes. 25-30 weeks out of the year you live with these other racing aficionados”.
How many races a year does your company travel to?
“Our company as a whole, we do as many as 50-55 races a year including rallycross, promotional events and more”.
How many races do you personally go to?
“That’s tough. In 2015, I went to almost every Mazda Road to Indy race, so that was quite extensive. I was probably on the road five months out of the year -not consecutively- but ten days here, a week here, two weeks there. It all depended on the job at hand and what I needed to do. Whether that be driving the truck, mounting tires or actually doing the CEO position and the paperwork side of things”.
So essentially, even though you’re CEO, if there’s work to do you’re more than willing to help out?
“Exactly. We all pitch in. That’s what makes our organization such a great company to work for. The hierarchy we try to keep simple. We know who’s in charge and who’s not but everyone plays a valuable role in the company”.
How does it make you feel that the products your company distributes are used by the future stars of the IndyCar Series such as Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward?
“It’s a great feeling watching these kids grow up through the ranks. Still to this day even though they’ve moved on they still take the time to say ‘hi’ or have lunch with us. We’ve definitely influenced them in one way or the other and it’s such a great feeling overall”.
Having been to so many different racetracks, which one do you consider your favorite?
“There’s actually a couple of them. One for historical value would be Laguna Seca. But Barber Motorsports Park, that place is amazing. Not only is the race course challenging, there are many other amenities to be appreciated by all. The property contains a museum containing a wealth of racing history which could take a person up to three days to view. Between the rolling hills which can be used as spectator viewing point, and the artwork statically placed, there is something to be enjoyed by all. The track is definitely on the leading edge of customer-based racetracks”.
XtremeTM is affiliated with a tech company that created an app your company uses on race weekends. Can you tell us a little more about this company?
“A business affiliate with XtremeTM is Rehv, a software company. All Rehv software has been developed in Oregon using OSU Computer Science alumni that are in the workforce in the Willamette Valley as business owners and programmers. [The] software is specific to racing industry with very specific solutions for the unique challenges that a tech department has to monitor and confirm rule compliance”.
What exactly is the app used for?
“We [use the software] to enforce tire rules. You can only have three to five sets of tires on a typical race weekend. [With the app] we can enforce that. There are also many other applications in the works to help ensure safety in motorsports”.
It seems like teams have to use their tires wisely. Is that a correct assumption?
“Yeah, they need to. The whole reasoning behind the set allocations is to help keep costs down. Obviously we have teams with financial backing and then we have budget-minded racers. So the Mazda Road To Indy and Cooper Tires try to equal the playing field so it’s fun for all, and affordable”.
It sounds like your job is one that never ceases to be exciting, would you agree?
“It is. The best part is working for Cooper Tires and meeting the racing community as a whole. One thing I would like to point out is that the Mazda Road to Indy and Cooper Tires are one of the few series and organizations that are truly open to the spectators. There are very few areas that are cornered off. All of the drivers are very proactive at introducing themselves and the corporate sponsors like Cooper Tires to the spectators. The Mazda Road to Indy and Cooper Tires are very friendly towards spectators and all of our friends and families. As I mentioned earlier, we would not have jobs without the support of the fans and racing community”.