NASCAR Hall means a lot to Gibbs
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:21 pm
By: By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Joe Gibbs is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for winning three Super Bowl titles as a coach.
Maybe someday he’ll make it a double with the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Although the car owner said that’s “probably a long ways off,” Gibbs insisted Tuesday’s opening of the stock car racing shrine in his home state means just as much as his football honor.
“I’ve never been able to separate them,” Gibbs said. “Obviously, with this one you get my family being a part of it. Having it here, for us it’s a big family deal. That’s a big part of my feelings toward this sport and this town.
“The other thing is being a part of the NFL thing is a thrill, because it’s a whole different area for me because over there I was more of the technical guy.”
Before embarking on building Joe Gibbs Racing, Gibbs guided the Washington Redskins to four Super Bowls, winning three.
He was voted into the football hall in Canton, Ohio, in 1996.
“You can imagine what kind of goes through their minds,” Gibbs said of Hall of Fame inductees Junior Johnson and Richard Petty, the two living members to be enshrined May 23. “I know it’s a real thrill for those guys.”
Indeed it is.
A beaming Johnson said being in the first class is “the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.” Petty added: “When you’re recognized with your own peers, it just makes it that much more special.”
The $195 million NASCAR hall’s opening is also special for the 69-year-old Gibbs, who grew up about an hour away in Mocksville with more stock car racing items in his bedroom than football paraphernalia.
“I think collecting a lot of the items and everything that is in here is very important for the sport,” Gibbs said. “I think it’s a huge attraction for our fans and our fanbase when they come to Charlotte.
“Now they can go to the Hall of Fame, they can tour the race shops, they can go to Charlotte Motor Speedway. You can be a part of so many things. I think it’s going to be a huge attraction for our fans. It kind of captures the sport and where we are.”
With the way things have been going for Gibbs’ race team, a second Hall of Fame invite could happen in the future.
Now run by his son, J.D., the team has won three Cup championships. NASCAR’s hottest driver is JGR’s Denny Hamlin, and the team has won four of the past six Sprint Cup races.
Gibbs also won Sprint Cup championships as the owner with both Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
Joe Gibbs Racing also claimed a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship trophy with Kyle Busch in the driver’s seat. last season
Gibbs isn’t sure if he’ll eventually make it a hall of fame double-dip, but enjoyed mingling with the fans on Tuesday morning and discussing both careers.
“They’re giving you a raspberry because they’re a Cowboys fan or they’re a Jeff Gordon fan. That’s what kind of brings a sport to life,” Gibbs said on Tuesday morning at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I think it causes you to really reflect and realize how fortunate you are.”