Fox Racing roars into world marketplaces; found on 6 continents

Fox Racing appareal can be found worldwide, including at the

MORGAN HILL
– Like the Nike swoosh or the IZOD alligator, the Fox Racing
logo is everywhere these days.
What began as a small distributor for motocross racing equipment
has spread not only into every extreme sport such as BMX riding,
mountain biking, surfing and wakeboarding, but also crossed over
into one of today’s hottest fashion items.
MORGAN HILL – Like the Nike swoosh or the IZOD alligator, the Fox Racing logo is everywhere these days.

What began as a small distributor for motocross racing equipment has spread not only into every extreme sport such as BMX riding, mountain biking, surfing and wakeboarding, but also crossed over into one of today’s hottest fashion items.

From T-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps to backpacks, school bags and wallets to dresses, skirts and tops to stuffed animals and towels to stickers on the back window of automobiles, it is hard not to see something Fox everywhere and anywhere you go.

It is no longer for racers only. Fox has developed into the latest trend.

“I certainly never had that idea. I thought (the company) would be successful, but not to the extent it is now,” said Geoff Fox, 62, a 30-year resident of San Jose, who founded the Morgan Hill-based advanced technology race-wear company in February 1974 with the support of his wife, Josie.

Geoff was a 33-year-old physics professor at the University of Santa Clara when he decided to turn his motocross hobby into a career. At first, Fox Racing was a distribution company for European motocross bikes in a 1,500-square-foot building in Campbell. Two years later, Fox began manufacturing high-performance suspension and engine components for racers looking for an on-track advantage.

“It’s been all clothing for 10, 15 years,” said Fox, whose business took a dramatic change for the best in 1977 when he established the Moto-X Fox Racing Team. “That’s how it started.”

The racing team sported the Fox-head logo and the Fox colors of red, yellow, and orange so everyone would know the company the riders represented.

“We got so many requests from other people to buy them. That’s how we got into the clothing business,” said Fox, whose company soon turned away from making bike parts and focused on its apparel. “We sell in every major market.”

The Fox logo was designed by graphic artist Bob Baptist, of Los Gatos, and has since seen some slight modifications during the years by Geoff’s son, Pete Fox, who last altered it in 1985.

“It’s a very strong logo,” Fox said. “It’s very nice to see (all the people wearing the Fox logo). Yes, I am amazed.”

Fox, who is now semi-retired, watched his company grow and grow, moving away from the bike parts and focusing on the apparel and clothing. There are Fox Racing dealers on six continents. In Asia, Fox Racing can be found in 15 different locations, including China, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, and Russia. In Africa, there is a Fox Racing dealer in South Africa. In Australia, Fox dealers are on the mainland and in New Zealand.

In South America, Fox is recognized in 16 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.

In Europe, Fox is seen in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

In North America, there are Fox dealers in Canada, Mexico and the United States, including a retail store in the Gilroy Outlets since 2002, The Great Mall in Milpitas and a third retailer in Southern California.

Besides the direct retailers, Fox gear can be found in motorcycle dealerships and other retail sports stores – the largest being Pacific Sunwear. It can also be found on the Internet at foxracing.com – where one can shop for apparel and learn about sponsorship, as well as the current riders and the amazing history of the company.

“Everybody, even people who don’t ride motocross, have Fox stuff. Everyone seems to like the colors and the logo,” said Gilroy High School senior Jacob Pniewski, who first noticed the Fox logo when he was a freshman. “When the Fox outlet opened up, it really exploded in Gilroy.”

While the motocross gear for racers is the most advanced, state-of-the-art design for their benefit and safety, the clothing line is similar in style to that of Tommy Hilfiger.

Kenny Carlotta, a 16-year-old sophomore flat-track champion and motocross rider, has used Fox gear both when he’s racing on the track and when he’s going to high school.

“I use it because I don’t like wearing the leathers. You can’t really move around on motocross in the leathers, but you are able to move around in the Fox gear,” said Carlotta, who added he wears the protective pants and jersey for dirt-bike races with jumps.

“It’s all at school,” Carlotta said. “I walk around school and I’m like, ‘That kid (wearing Fox) doesn’t know anything about racing.”

Carlotta, who has won several points series championships in his amateur career, is still moving up the ranks in the AMA District 36 circuit. He currently rides a 450cc and a 600cc dirtbike, and hopes to be a top professional rider some day – possibly wearing the Fox logo as a sponsored rider.

“That would be, like, really cool,” said Carlotta, who likes that Fox Racing is so easily accessible because, “They’ll have everything right there so if I need it, it’s right there. That’s what’s cool.”

The coolest part of Fox Racing is it has always been a family-run business. While Geoff, the founder along with his wife, who also helped with the catalogs early on, their four children all hold positions within the company.

Pete Fox is the creative director; Greg Fox is vice president of sales; John Fox is the sportswear designer; and Anna Fox is the call center supervisor.

“It’s been very important to my wife and I. An awful lot of our success is due to the next generation and all of our employees,” said Geoff, whose company employs more than 300 people in its business administration, design, sportswear and warehouse departments. “My generation laid the foundation and the next generation is building on it very strongly.”

Fox Racing is headquartered in Morgan Hill with an auxiliary warehouse in Gilroy. The headquarters, a 175-square-foot facility, is where all the creative juices flow with new ideas to expand and improve upon the company name.

“We design, market and distribute from there,” said Geoff of the headquarters. “We get all the manufacturing done in various factories across the country.”

Fox Racing currently sponsors riders in all of the extreme sports and the company follows their endeavors to generate new ideas to better their equipment. In 1980, Fox Racing rider Mark Barnett won the team’s first national championship, which was followed two years later by Brad Lackey who won the first world motocross championship. Altogether, the Fox Racing team has won more than 30 national motocross and supercross championships.

Each year, riders seeking Fox sponsorship send their applications to Rider Support, Fox Racing, 18400 Sutter Boulevard, Morgan Hill, CA, 95037. Applications for the 2004 season – which should include a resume; two or three letters of reference from teachers, coaches or community/church leaders; report card, one action photo, one head and shoulders photo – will be accepted beginning late this summer. The top-five in the amateur nationals in each extreme sport have the best shot.

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