Makar Learns Plenty At 24 Hours Of Le Mans HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Wednesday, June 15, 2004 -- While Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart will compete in the first of two road course races on the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season June 27 at Infineon ...
Makar Learns Plenty At 24 Hours Of Le Mans
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Wednesday, June 15, 2004 -- While Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart will compete in the first of two road course races on the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season June 27 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., Joe Gibbs Racing Senior Vice President Jimmy Makar has already been to arguably the most famous road race in the world.
Makar, who served as Labonte's crew chief from 1995-2002, attended the 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans June 12-13 as a guest of General Motors.
It was Makar's first trip to the historic race in Le Mans, France.
"To participate in an event like that is pretty phenomenal," Makar said. "It's pretty wild to be at an event where, as a kid, I used to watch it on TV or read about it in the paper and it was the biggest race in the world. It's kind of cool to be standing there on hallowed ground and thinking about all the things I'd heard of and read about and all the people that had gone over there and raced from all around the world. It was a pretty neat experience, and it was very impressive."
Makar said he didn't learn anything that would offer an immediate advantage to Labonte's No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet or Stewart's No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet. However, he said the trip was a learning experience for the future.
"It was good networking trip," Makar said. "It opened up doors to suppliers, organizations and companies that you would otherwise not know about or see. I didn't see anything that when I came home I said, 'Hey, we've got to get working on this tomorrow.' But, I saw a lot of interesting things over there that we could use down the road as we develop and build parts and pieces. The trip did what I hoped it to do and, if nothing else, it opened my eyes a little bit and I got myself out of a little bit of a box that I was in, just doing things in the community that we're used to dealing with."
Makar, Labonte and Stewart will look for JGR's third road course win in NEXTEL Cup competition. Stewart has both victories for the team, winning at Infineon in 2001 and Watkins Glen in 2002.
Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, currently fielding two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams for drivers Labonte and Stewart, and two NASCAR Busch Series teams for drivers Mike Bliss and J.J. Yeley.
Based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Joe Gibbs -- a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and current coach of the Washington Redskins -- the team has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning two Cup Series championships and over 40 NASCAR races, including the 1993 Daytona 500 and the 2000 Brickyard 400.