Pioneer – Industry
They say that nice guys finish last, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Robbie Pierce. He has combined his competitive spirit for racing with his experience as a pioneer in vehicle safety to create a win-win for the off-road community.
Even when he isn’t the first racer across the finish line, Robbie still wins by gaining valuable first-hand knowledge about the fitment and durability of his products, using that knowledge to develop new and better products.
With a reputation for being able to weld anything and everything while adhering to the most painstaking tolerances, Robbie has impressive resume that includes numerous aerospace assignments. He humbly admits to having ‘just a few’ of his welding projects currently in orbit, circling the planet Earth.
Back down to Earth, Robbie developed the mass production method for welding titanium golf club heads, revolutionizing the golf industry. It was Robbie’s passion for keeping off-road racers safe, however, that would define his career and his legacy.
Robbie became CEO of MasterCraft Safety in 1999 and expanded the business with the purchase of Impact from safety pioneer Bill Simpson in 2010. When Robbie took over the reins at MasterCraft Safety he had already been doing fabrication work on their seat frames for nearly fifteen years in his San Diego based aerospace welding and machine shop. “Honestly, at the time it never occurred to me to purchase MasterCraft, even though in hindsight it seems so obvious. I had always thought of myself as a specialty metals and aerospace welder and that was the path I had always taken,” said Robbie. “The seat frames were always the extra business and it was nice to have but it was the specialty welding that paid the bills,” he added.
Many safety product innovations in the off-road industry have been developed, refined and expanded under Robbie’s leadership, from helmets and restraints, to driving suits and gloves. His seat time in the race truck led to such innovative products as the Impact Air Draft system, with a unique offset air port designed to clear overhead tube work inside the vehicle.
Robbie sold Impact by MasterCraft Safety to the Italian firm Sparco in 2017. Less than a year later, Robbie announced his acquisition of Jimco Racing, a successful manufacturer of off-road racing vehicles. Jimco’s talented craftsmen have built and developed more than 500 race cars, trucks and UTVs leading to hundreds of victories and championships around the world.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Robbie said, referring to his recent purchase of Jimco Racing. Robbie purchased Jimco from Mike Julson’s step-son, Matt Loiodice. Mike’s father Jim founded Jimco in the mid-1970s. Mike had this to say about Robbie’s purchase of Jimco Racing:
“My dream is that in ten years I can walk through The Mint 400 or Baja 1000 pits and still see the Jimco brand still going strong. This is the right move at the right time…you have to be a powerhouse – or you will be a memory.”
Jimco has a good opportunity to be that powerhouse under Robbie’s direction. With more than 40 years of hands on fabrication knowledge, race experience, and leadership skills, Robbie is one of the most respected – and well liked – members of the off-road community.
Robbie has donated and sponsored safety products to many fledgling racers, pit organizations, series and sanctioning bodies over the years, and has been a tremendous resource and advocate for safer racing practices. He has quietly donated his time and money to orphanages in Baja, and financially supports Rancho Sordo Mundo, a school for the deaf in Baja. Partnering with BFGoodrich and fellow racer Gustavo Vildosola, Robbie organized the transport of essential goods to the people of Baja following hurricanes.
Profile Image Credit: Vincent Knakal
Jimco Racing Credit: Daniel C Photography
Contributors: Rusty Megois, Rusty’s Off Road; ORMHOF inductee Marty Fiolka; Harry Wagner, and Kelli Willmore