Joe Gibbs Racing breaks ground on new shop By Shawn A. Akers HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 1998) - Joe Gibbs couldn't be happier with his current race shop, located on Twin Lakes Parkway in Charlotte, N.C. There's a...
Joe Gibbs Racing breaks ground on new shop By Shawn A. Akers HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 1998) - Joe Gibbs couldn't be happier with his current race shop, located on Twin Lakes Parkway in Charlotte, N.C. There's a problem, though. Right along with the popularity of NASCAR, his race team has experienced an enormous growth spurt in the last few years, and the facility just isn't big enough to house the entire operation anymore.
When that happens, the logical thing is either to expand, or to move to a different location, and Gibbs has chosen the latter.
On Tuesday, Gibbs, along with his entire racing organization, broke ground on a 14-acre lot located near a business park just off Interstate 77 north of Charlotte, the site of his new 120,000-square foot facility that is scheduled to be completed by the end of this season.
"This is an exciting day for us," said the NFL Hall of Fame coach and owner of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries team on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. "Everybody with our race team couldn't be more thrilled. We have a complex now, a beautiful complex, but amazingly we outgrew it in about three years."
The current race shop houses both driver Bobby Labonte's Interstate Batteries team and teammate Tony Stewart's No. 44 Shell Oil NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team. Stewart, however, is scheduled to move up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1999 -- just one of the reasons for building a new and bigger facility.
Eventually, Gibbs said, he hopes to move his NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams to the Charlotte area as well. The two teams, piloted by Cory McClenathan and Cruz Pedregon, respectively, are currently housed in a shop located in Indianapolis.
"Facility-wise, anything you can purchase to help you race better and make the whole experience more rewarding for our sponsors and fans alike is something you have to stay committed to," Gibbs said. "No question this is one of the bigger things to happen at Joe Gibbs Racing."
The shop, when completed, will be the third facility that Gibbs and his team have been housed in since he formed the team in 1991. The first one was a small shop off of Harris Boulevard in Charlotte, at which time there were 18 employees. There are now over 100 employees at Joe Gibbs Racing, which has become a conglomerate in itself.
"In this complex, we want to make sure that we always provide for our employees," Gibbs said. "We want it to be the best place in the world to work. We don't want to be out some place where there's a lot of traffic. We chose to be in some place that's secluded so we can get some privacy and still do a good job with organizing our team.
"Everybody in our organization had a hand in designing this complex, in developing it. Our employees are very important to us, and we want to keep them happy. We think this is going to become the best, safest workplace that we can possibly have."
Gibbs cited two other factors -- his race team's sponsors and the fans -- as contributing to the plans of the facility. The new facility is scheduled to include a museum and a 100-seat auditorium that can be used for sponsor and corporate-related meetings and motivational seminars and other interactive attractions that will be enjoyed by fans and sponsors alike.
Fans will be able to look out over a balcony and get a glimpse of the actual work being done on the cars in the shop when taking a tour of the facility.
"We will have some unique opportunities to do the things that we certainly couldn't do in the other shop, and I don't think anyone else can do," Gibbs said. "The entire complex is going to be fan-friendly. Someone can come visit and see films, see what's actually going on in the race shop, see videos that tell them what's going on in the shop, and actually visit a race museum. We're going to have an events lawn outside the complex where we could seat 350 people. Sponsors can do regional meetings if they choose."
The team plans to move into its new home after the final races of the season, the Stihl 300 NASCAR Busch Series race and the NAPA 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event, in Atlanta in November. Team manager Jimmy Makar says he wants to be in the new building no later than Jan. 1, 1999.
"The plan is for us to go to the November race in Atlanta and when we come back, go into the new shop," Makar said. "I don't know if that will happen because of the weather we've had for the last month or two, but it's what we'd like to do."
Source: NASCAR Online