Hall of Fame


james w. simpson

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James W. Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms, the largest Standardbred breeding farm in the world, was born on October 31, 1950, the younger son of Hall of Fame Immortal John F. Simpson, Sr. and his wife Helen. As a youngster, Jim Simpson was acquainted with such harness racing luminaries as Frank Ervin, Delvin Miller, Clarence Gaines and others steeped in Standardbred lore. He was awed by both Lawrence Sheppard and the vast collection of farms and acreage Sheppard had assembled under the Hanover flag.

After earning a degree in biology from the University of New Mexico, Simpson enrolled in a Delaware law school; however he never attended, proving susceptible to the same "affliction" that had been claiming male members of the Simpson family for generations. He abandoned his pursuit of a law degree to pursue a career with the Standardbreds.

Out of college, Simpson began to take a great interest in the racing world. He learned about it the hard way, apprenticing with some of the best horsemen in the business, until he was ready to take over training the Hanover Shoe Farms stock. In 1973 Simpson and trainer Glyden Willis campaigned horses owned by John Simpson Sr. and the Sheppard family. The following year he worked with the gifted Hall of Famer Jimmy Arthur, who succeeded Willis as the Hanover trainer.

Simpson would go on to train and often drive such stars as Kentucky Futurity winner and international champion Sugarcane Hanover 4,1:54.3 ($1,706,465) and world champion Noxie Hanover 2,T1:55 ($78,027), whose speed record for two-year-old trotting fillies stood for the better part of two decades. As a driver, Simpson won lifetime earnings of $1,113,792.

As a trainer, Simpson tried to blend traditional horsemanship with an avid interest in any new tool that would help him. He embraced computers long before many in the Standardbred world, realizing their value to a racing stable and breeding operation. It was Jim Simpson who would spearhead Hanover's move into the computer age, not only using computers as record-keeping tools on the farm, but later for the farm's Internet site. Hanover became the vanguard of this important trend. In 1992,Simpson swapped a seat in the jog cart and sulky for a seat in the boardroom, becoming vice president of Hanover Shoe Farms. He was named president and CEO of the corporation in 1997 and continues to serve in those roles.

Hanover takes care of more than 100 retired broodmares that live on the farm, with all receiving the same attention they did as when they were active. Simpson said in an interview, "At Hanover, we like to say we set a standard for excellence. In our view, no animal is unworthy of our high standard of care. These horses are here in our service; it is our responsibility to care for them for all of their lives, even when they are no longer commercially productive."

Simpson and his wife, Georgia, are the former operators of the Simpson Training Center in Sorrento, Florida. Jim is an avid pilot and also enjoys deep sea fishing and classical music. He was elected a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in 2009. Jim and Georgia have a son, Michael (wife Corrine) and grandson, Beckett.