What is Robbie Pierce Building For?
Like many titans in the off-road racing space, Robbie Pierce grew up in sunny, sandy San Diego. Surrounded by world-class racers, fabrication shops, and plenty of desert terrain, he began a life-long career as a welder and off-road racing enthusiast. In the early years, he took whatever work walked through the door — starting with projects involving garbage trucks and eventually graduating to the occasional trophy truck
He didn’t stop there. (The last thing Robbie Pierce likes to do is stop.) As the former owner and CEO of safety brands Impact Motorsports and MasterCraft Safety and the current owner and CEO of Jimco Racing, a premier fabricator of off-road race cars, Robbie’s career is full of motorsports brand leadership success stories. He’s also a winner of the Baja 1000, an inductee in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, and has “just a few” of his numerous aerospace welding projects still in orbit around planet Earth.
After decades of projects, breakthroughs, deals, and wins, Robbie Pierce is still going full send. We had to ask: After building so much for so long, what are you building for?
His answer, like his resume, was multifaceted and very impressive.
Building for Survival
When asked to describe himself in his own words, after first cracking a self-deprecating joke, Robbie Pierce says, “I’m a survivor.” It’s a title he’s earned both in business and out in Baja.
“In life, when you stop, you die. The same goes for business and for racing. To survive, you have to keep moving. You have to go where the work and the opportunity is. You have to chase it.”
Baked right into Robbie’s successful business attitude are all the keys to winning an off-road race: you must have passion as well as expertise, you must follow opportunity no matter how rough a path it leads you down, you must embrace the vast, messy array of unknown variables ahead, and you must never, ever take your problem-solving helmet off.
“It’s just like in Baja. When you pull up to the starting line of a race, no matter how much prep you do, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You have to keep moving, adapting, and surviving. That’s why this sport is so hard! And that’s why it’s an adventure.”
Whether in the desert with an overheating engine to fix or in a boardroom with a hotly-contested consensus to build — the survivor in Robbie thrives under pressure.
“After I sold my motorsports safety brands Impact and MasterCraft, I missed that pressure of owning a business. Making payroll, meeting deadlines, and making big and incredibly uncertain things happen is a thrill for me. When the adventure of running a business was gone, something was missing from my life. It would have been easy to retire, but it took only a few weeks before I got bored. Jimco was my opportunity to get that back. So, I chased that down, too.”
Building for Safer Motorsports
Robbie spent most of his adult life chasing down big opportunities. It led him to some pretty cool places working in the special metals welding space, the aerospace industry, the golf industry, the military supply chain, and more. For a while, it led him down Gasoline Alley — the center of the on-road racing world — where he spent years ushering innovative racing seats, restraints, fire suits, gloves, and helmets into pit garages and race cars around the world.
“I spent some really exciting years in Indianapolis working on motorsports safety with organizations like NHRA, NASCAR, IndyCar, and more, but the draw of the off-road community was always calling me back to San Diego.”
He was itching to be back in the desert, but he wasn’t coming home empty-handed. For years in Indianapolis, Robbie was a part of the International Council of Motorsports Sciences; an esteemed professional group focused on the “human element” in motorsports. It takes a lot of people to put on a successful racing event or program, and this group focuses on keeping them safe, healthy, and high-performing. He saw the need for this kind of thinking in the off-road space, too. And he was in a unique position to provide it. Enter: Robbie’s next big, chasable opportunity.
“I like to joke that, only a few years ago, the biggest safety device in rock crawling was the bungee cord on the cooler that kept the beers from hitting you on the head when you tipped over! In some ways, that’s what makes off-roading special. It isn’t sanitized, modularized, and pasteurized to the point where it’s not fun anymore. But there was a pretty big gap between off-road and on-road when it came to safety technology. And I knew I could help close it.”
Ever humble, Robbie gets labeled a “safety innovator” a lot but shrugs off the title, insisting others fit that bill even better than he does. He attributes the growth and maturity of the sport of off-roading not to any specific individuals but to a group of “legacy brands” that have come up with the sport and have remained dedicated to helping it thrive. It’s a group that we’re proud to be a part of.
“BFGoodrich® has always made the best tires, but they’ve also supported this industry from the beginning. They’re there for our racers. We all like racing the Wild Wild West. That's all part of the attraction, but it's also nice knowing that BFG pit support is not too far away. It’s a little bit of security in a world where security is scarce. Those volunteers are safety innovators. I’ve seen them save lives right before my eyes.”
Building for Dreams
At a young age, Robbie Pierce figured out that he loved building things. And as the adage goes: if you can turn what you love into a career, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s the dream (among a few others) that looking back, Robbie is proud to have made come true for himself.
“Whether it was heading to my little welding shop when I was young or walking into Jimco today, I show up to build things. I have goals for myself and the brand, but at the end of the day, what I want to do is fulfill people's dreams. That’s what a Jimco racecar is: someone’s dream come true.”
The funny thing about dreamers is that they love to hang out with other dreamers. According to Robbie, that’s what draws people to off-road racing. Dreams are the foundation of the sport and its surrounding industry as a whole. They’re also the key ingredient to the sport’s future as well.
“In the off-road world, we’re all building for our dreams. The trophies are small, and the prize money might not even cover your fuel bill. That stuff is not why people show up. I got a call the other day from a major league baseball player pitcher. He’s 36 — which is old for baseball — and when he retires, what does he want to do? He wants to off-road race. And he's starting to make contacts, research programs and look into possible vehicles. I could hear it in his voice, the dream building.”
It’s in Robbie’s voice, too. It’s in every vehicle he’s worked on, every product he’s designed, and every brand he’s built. It’s a passion. It’s a legacy. It’s what Robbie Pierce is building for.