When NASCAR and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Joe Gibbs founded Joe Gibbs Racing more than three decades ago, he cited the opportunity to spend more time with his family, especially sons JD and Coy, as a reason for his decision.
Now his mission is to keep JGR a family business for many years to come.
Both JD and Coy are now gone and will die in 2019 and 2022, both at the age of 49. However, the team continues as a family business and shifts to the grandchildren of the 82-year-old director. There are now enough branches of that tree with a lot of racing experience:
JD’s oldest son, Jackson, and Joe’s first grandchild is the front tire changer for Christopher Bell.
Coy’s oldest son, Ty, and Joe’s second grandchild drive the No. 54 Toyota in NASCAR’s Cup Series.
Joe’s third grandchild, Miller, and JD’s second of four sons will join the team in a leadership role following his final football season at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
Ty’s mother, Heather, has taken on an owner role at JGR and attended NASCAR and Race Team Alliance meetings. Melissa, JD’s wife, also participates in meetings at JGR, but spends most of her time starting a Christian school in an old church building she acquired.
“We determine the future of the racing team – the Gibbs family,” says Joe emphatically.
“Our first three grandchildren all want to be involved in racing. I missed a lot of JD’s and Coy’s growing up because I was chasing football and all the things you do in the NFL at that level. When I got to racing… I was able to work with JD and Coy on a daily basis with the race team. I loved that. Now I’m going to see some grandchildren.
“We don’t know how many of them want to be involved with the race team… but the first three look like they’ll be here and that’s exciting for me. Heather has a huge interest in racing… and that’s exciting for us .”
What sale to HBSE means for JGR
Joe says speculation that Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and Arctos Partners, who became a minority investor in the team in June, bought out the Gibbs family is false. He says that since JGR’s inception, they’ve always looked at ways to financially strengthen the operation without the Gibbs family relinquishing control of it.
“We had a satellite tracking device that we tried. We tried an oil company. We tried different things at different times,” said Joe, who will become a limited partner in HBSE pending approval from the NBA and NHL. “One or two of those kind helped some, but nothing… really made us that strong.”
Joe says the team had discussions with several groups, but HBSE “popped out” as one that could help strengthen JGR due to their ownership of other professional sports teams. At first he didn’t think anyone would agree to a financial investment and let the Gibbs family run JGR, but HBSE was the one we really got along with. He says HBSR studied NASCAR and as discussions progressed with JGR, they eventually reached an agreement.
“They have a lot of companies that they deal with,” says Joe. “They are very advanced in the technical way they run their businesses. There are just so many things that I think we could benefit from having this relationship.
HBSE’s global portfolio includes the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL New Jersey Devils. Arctos Partners has invested in more than 20 sports franchises and adjacent companies.
HBSE co-founder Josh Harris leads a group that has reached an agreement to buy the NFL’s Washington Commanders and is awaiting approval from the NFL owners. When the NFL team was known as the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs led the team to three Super Bowl championships, a 124-60 regular season record and a 16-5 record in 21 postseason games.
However, it wasn’t Joe’s NFL connection to the team that led him to HBSE. It was purely coincidental, as Joe says talks with the investment group started 10 months ago, and for the first three months the Washington Commanders weren’t for sale. discussions with HBSE began before Coy’s death on November 6, just hours after he celebrated the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with his son Ty.
Racing as part of Joe Gibbs’ pre-football life
Hot rods and racing have been a part of Joe’s life since his family moved to So
uthern California from Western North Carolina at the age of 16. In California he raced a Gas Coupé, a Gas Dragster and a Top Fuel car which he immediately blew up and never rebuilt due to lack of funds.
When JGR made its debut in NASCAR in 1992, it had one car, 17 people and Joe thought it would be “more of a hobby and we would all enjoy it”. In the mid-1990s, JGR also ventured into drag racing, with NHRA teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.
In the early years of JGR, JD competed in the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity) races, Craftsman Truck Series, and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, while also serving as a JGR over-the-wall crew member.
Coy also competed in NASCAR’s Busch and Truck series. He made his debut in the Truck Series in 2000. He moved to the Busch Series in 2003 and was runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors. In August 2007, Coy announced the formation of Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross, which competes in the AMA Motocross and Supercross Championships.
“The great thing is we got to enjoy it as a family,” Joe says of racing. “That is so rewarding to me. I just really appreciate the NASCAR world. We love it and we want to keep it going forever.