The passion for desert racing that began at age 15 has culminated with a hallowed spot in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame for FOX Off-Road Division president John Marking. His vision and motorsports oversight brought FOX onto the world stage, setting the cadence for off-road racing domination.
Marking grew the FOX Off-Road Division from $600K to $44M between 2001 and 2015. His varied shock absorber designs from bicycle suspension to race cars, heavy-duty trucks and military vehicles have awarded him 43 U.S. and European patents, and he isn’t done yet. While it’s easy to put those accomplishments into numbers, it’s much harder to measure his massive impact on off-road racing, business, and culture.
Starting in FOX’s fledgling bicycle division in 1992, Marking quickly proved his worth to founder Bob Fox, rising through the ranks to eventually start the off-road division in Santee, California in 2001. His intimate racing knowledge and experience brought glory to hundreds of FOX drivers, and cemented FOX’s reputation as the premiere off-road suspension manufacturer.
“Working under John has been a true honor,” FOX Motorsports Director Bobby Smith said. “I wouldn’t be the engineer I am today, and I’ll be forever grateful for his mentorship. John’s drive to constantly innovate and improve designs is unmatched. His contribution and work ethic has defined FOX culture and is responsible for the company’s success. It’s very cool to see John get inducted into the Off-Road Hall of Fame and get the recognition he deserves. Congrats JM!”
From 1992 to 2001, Marking helped build the bike segment to an $11M business, all while inventing and patenting several new technologies including the first FLOAT style rear air shock and his first iteration of position-sensitive Internal Bypass damping for the infamous Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze downhill mountain bike race.
When he took over the Off-Road Division he further developed and perfected one of his most prolific designs for larger off-road race vehicles, FOX’s patented position-sensitive Internal Bypass architecture.
“John’s innovation and leadership have not only directly contributed to FOX’s success as a business over the past three decades, they’ve also made a profound impact on off-road racing and culture as a whole,” FOX Motorsports Program Manager Bryan Harrold added.
“His unrivaled passion, drive, experience, and influence have accelerated us to where we are today at FOX as a global leader in suspension performance and technology, setting the standard for years to come. It’s been an honor and a privilege to both race with and work alongside him. I’m absolutely thrilled to see him receive the recognition he deserves with his induction into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.”
In addition to patenting and developing his Internal Bypass design for FOX, Marking continued to race single seat buggies, took a Class 1 championship, enjoyed short course racing and a few stints in the Trophy Truck premiere class.
Some key developments during that period include the production of the first FOX shocks for UTVs on the Yamaha Rhino in 2005 and designing most of FOX’s current Off-Road race product line still produced and winning races on today. Marking developed concepts on his own race car – including the prototype External Bypass on his Class 1 car that he could remotely lock-out to handle like a sports car back when there weren’t speed limits on the Baja highway sections – a precursor for FOX’s current electronic Live Valve semi-active suspension damping technology. He also worked directly with top racers on special Racing Applications Development (RAD) projects like FOX’s original ECS shock cooler (code named “Cactus Cooler”) with Jesse Jones to conquer the infamous San Felipe whoops.
Prior to the External Cooling system, shocks were a limiting factor in Trophy Truck racing. By using the cooler in conjunction with a bypass shock’s rebound circuit to cycle the oil through the cooler, fluid temps were drastically reduced and allowed drivers to push harder, faster, and longer. That component certainly help set the stage for the performance of modern day Trophy Trucks.
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame welcomed the Class of 2020 and 2021 and honored all past inductees at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on October 30. The Class of 2021 also includes Steve Kelley, Spencer Low and Tim Morton.
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