By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
Rev your engines, Alexandria.
Hidden within the quiet town of roughly 5,000, there’s a little bit of a high-octane, heart-pounding sport with millions of fans worldwide.
Salmon-Simpson Racing, the brain child of owner Jon Salmon and CEO and driver Stephen Simpson, opened about a year ago in downtown Alexandria, at 301 N. Harrison St. in the old Glove Corp. building.
Salmon said he dreamed of the glamorous racing lifestyle as a kid but was only inspired to act on it after meeting the young — yet winning — driver, Simpson, on an Indy racing circuit.
“It was his drive and passion for the sport that inspired me to want to be involved with helping Stephen Simpson live his dream to race full time for a living,” said Salmon, who runs the business side of Salmon-Simpson. “That drive and motivation is what sparked a fire for me to get in the racing business.”
It was serendipity, much like the story behind Salmon-Simpson’s rooting in Alexandria — especially considering neither partner is a native.
Simpson was born in England and raised in South Africa, where he took up karting as a kid. By his teens, he’d moved on to bigger, more powerful cars, eventually becoming the youngest driver to ever win the South African Ford Championship. To date, he’s racked up more than 75 awards via his history with Formula Ford, LeMans, IndyLights and other circuits.
The team’s link to small-town Madison County is through Salmon’s wife, Angie.
She was raised in Alexandria, taught at Alexandria-Monroe High School for a decade and helps run her mom’s downtown fashion boutique, Bella Ava, out of the same building as Salmon-Simpson.
“I knew this was the right place when I looked at the building last May,” Salmon said. “It was a perfect fit.” Especially since the office is in a building with “racing history oozing out of it,” he said. Among other things, he says, Glove Corp. made flame-retardant racing gear.
Despite not growing up in Alexandria, Salmon said he feels like he’s a part of the town.
“After the brief year Salmon-Simpson has operated out of Alexandria, many of the people are very welcoming and supportive,” he said.
And he hopes Salmon-Simpson can return the favor.
The Alexandria office handles the business’s day-to-day operations, such as phone calls and sponsorship. But the town travels with Simpson, as he tours on his racing circuits.
“Our goal is to showcase Alexandria (and) Madison County,” Salmon said, “to generate more jobs to larger companies through our goodwill of putting Alex on the fire suit,” the flame-retardant jumper that drivers wear.
So far, Salmon-Simpson has two sponsors but is recruiting and hopes to have several from Madison County. That could mean national and global business connections and plenty of advertising opportunities for local companies.
“I would have to say there is never a down time in the racing industry,”Salmon said. “When the last checker flag has dropped, that only means a great exciting new year is right around the corner.”
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