When you ask Indy 500 driver Jeff Simmons why he moved here from Indianapolis he may tell you he's here for the hockey…Or you may get the real story: His wife's job brought him. Married to local talk show host Stephanie Simmons of Great Day St. Louis, Simmons maintains his racing career by being in proximity to Lambert. "All I need is an airport, and I can live anywhere," he says. A racer since the age of 4, Simmons has spent his life on the track, wearing very protective (and very hot) racing gear. A stylish dresser off the track, Simmons knows a thing or two about fashion, thanks in part to the shopping attentions of his wife. We caught up with Simmons and learned a little about racing, and a lot about his style!
LN: How did you get into racing?
JS: My parents were racing fans, and my father did some amateur racing himself. They took my brother and me to a car show when I was 4. We saw the Quarter Midgets (small cars piloted by kids ages 5 to 16) and were hooked.
LN: You won the National Quarter Midget racing Championship at age 5. Fast learner?
JS: I guess so, and I had good teachers. At that age, though, you obviously need to have some natural ability.
LN: Your first Indy 500 was in 2004?
JS: Yes, it was a last minute deal with Mo Nunn Racing and my first time driving an IndyCar. I literally had done only 37 laps ever in an IndyCar before making the qualifying attempt. I was the second highest rookie that year, finishing in 16th place. In 2006 and 2007, I drove for Rahal/Letterman Racing in the No. 17 Ethanol car, and actually became a spokesman for the ethanol industry. (IndyCars run on 100 percent ethanol.)
LN: Did you race in 2008?
JS: Yes, I got to race for AJ Foyt, who has been great to me over the years. He is a legend in the sport and was recently voted the top driver of all time.
LN: What are you doing now in terms of racing?
JS: I don’t currently have a team, so I’m in the process of putting together marketing proposals in hopes of getting another sponsorship.
LN: Let’s talk about fashion. What brands do you like?
JS: I like William Rast jeans, Monarchy and Dolce & Gabbana clothing for casual, and suits by Armani and Calvin Klein. Dolce is my all-around favorite, and Ferragamo for shoes.
LN: Where do you like to shop?
JS: I like to shop in L.A. and New York when I’m traveling, but here I shop at Neiman Marcus and Saks. For everyday clothes I have a lot of stuff from Express. I’m still getting to know the area so I’m sure there are places here that I haven’t heard of yet.
LN: Ever had any fashion mishaps?
JS: Well, when I was 6 I had what my wife calls my Peppermint Patty look: a red and white striped outfit that I can probably blame on my mom. Then in high school I wore those long, braided leather belts, looped over. I guess we all have those pictures from when we were younger that we look at and say, “What in the world was I thinking?”