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Where It All Started—Richmond Gear

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Where It All Started—Richmond Gear
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography courtesy of the manufacturer
With a history spanning more than 100 years, Richmond Gear remains a leader on the drag strip with reliable driveline products for generations. Founded in 1915 under the name Automotive Gear Works and based in Atlanta, Georgia, the company produced aftermarket gearsets and axles for Duesenbergs, Cords, and other luxury cars of the era. In the early 1920s, AGW relocated to Richmond, Indiana, where it remained until 1985.
“In the 1930s, Automotive Gear Works expanded further into agricultural and industrial gearing for companies like International Harvester, JI Case, White Farm, and New Holland,” noted Steve Filipiak, Director of Marketing at Midwest Truck & Auto Parts. “In the 1940s, they added production to crate gearing for early military Jeeps.”
As time went on, AGW expanded its product line further by including axles and gearing for Detroit’s Big Three. The success of working with Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler helped solidify AGW’s place in the market and added value to the entity. As such, it was purchased by Eaton in the 1960s and renamed Eaton Gear.
“In the late 1970s, though, while the company was owned by the Wallace Murry Corp, it was renamed to Richmond Gear,” Filipiak explained of how the most recent moniker came to be. Thanks to a helicopter company’s request to have gears made of 9310 steel, performance automotive aftermarket products become a priority. “This stronger, yet slightly flexible steel wouldn’t crack in extreme situations and required a new level of metallurgy knowledge. New heat treatment processes were developed that later became the foundation of Richmond’s successful racing gearset technology.”
As racers discovered the strength of the new Richmond gears, they adopted the brand with vigor and requested gear ratios that weren’t offered as original equipment options. Stock car racing, too, took notice and Richmond Gear was a major sponsor of ARCA as well as NASCAR Busch Series and Super Truck from 1994-1998. In 1999, NASCAR’s Super Duty transmissions with Richmond gears were found onboard cars piloted by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Mark Martin, and many more, and dedicated manufacturing for NASCAR began in 2003.
Over the years, Richmond Gear persisted through several other mergers and acquisitions, including a relocation of operations to its now-former facility in Liberty, South Carolina, where it merged with its sister company, Ohio Gear. As of 2011, though, Richmond Gear has been a subsidiary of its parent company, Midwest Truck & Auto Parts, and moved operations to Crown Point, Indiana; in 2022, Midwest Truck & Auto merged with S&S Truck Parts.
For decades, Richmond Gear’s products have been essential to winners in many styles of racing, from the Daytona 500 to the NHRA U.S. Nationals and names like Don Garlits, Frank Hawley, Joe Amato, John Force, Warren Johnson, Bob Glidden, Jim Yates, Greg Anderson, Rickie Smith, Brad Anderson, and countless others have all won with Richmond.
Today, racers trust Richmond’s “Double Diamond” to deliver the highest quality gears in the industry with a broad selection of premium ring-and-pinion ratios, transmissions, and lightened gears that are all engineered to endure extreme punishment in dedicated racing vehicles operating in the harshest environments.
“While we have supported many different NMRA/NMCA classes over the past 25-plus years, we have recently really focused on the ‘everyman’ style of racing that the NMRA Factory Stock class offers,” added Filipiak. “Richmond Gear’s wide range of Pro gear ring and pinion ratios is unmatched in the industry and the racers in the Factory Stock class really put them to use!”

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