20 YEARS at JGR: Judy
Judy Phillips has spent the last 19 years working on the showcar side of Joe Gibbs Racing. During that time, she has seen the sport evolve into something that goes far beyond on-track competition. Judy has been here from the beginning and provides a unique glimpse into an area of the sport that most people don’t know about– the showcars.
What did you do before you came to Joe Gibbs Racing?
First and foremost I was a Mom and grandma. Before JGR, I drove a school bus and helped my husband in a business we had been in for 15 years. I also worked in the school system for a while as an office assistant.
How and when did you come to work at Joe Gibbs Racing?
My husband worked for Leader Enterprise- a company that was involved in securing sponsorship when the team was in the formative stages. He made contact with Food Lion one of the first sponsors.
My husband thought the racing start up and the showcar program would be an exciting opportunity. We began by doing the first JGR showcar promotions. That first car out of the shop was a car with no engine that went to Minn. for the Redskins Super Bowl. He almost froze his ears off, but he never second-guessed what he wanted to do. We worked together in the beginning. I booked the dates and he did the appearances. We were a package deal with one paycheck back then.
What have been your responsibilities here at Joe Gibbs Racing over the years?
It has pretty much always been the same responsibilities of overseeing the showcar department. I am the go-to between the sponsors and the showcar driver crews.
I handle all the scheduling details and have to pay attention to all the specific details, like where people need to be and when they need to be there. I have to keep both the sponsors and the showcar crews happy, while still trying to maintain professionalism and efficiency.
It has been amazing how we have grown in so many areas, and to see how authentic the showcars still are. In the early days JGR was solely focused on the racing aspect of competition. We were blessed early on with a whiz of a showcar driver, and he had big ideas to build the equipment to be the best on the road.
Jeff Koons now handles the operations of our entire fleet of showcars and shares space with our Nationwide Team. He still continues to keep our department ahead of the competition- our show car equipment is second to none.
Why do you choose to stay at JGR?
I feel very privileged and blessed to work with the Gibb’s Family and the entire JGR organization. It is a very exciting company to work for, and they [JGR] have always cared a lot about their employees and always reward the whole team whenever we win a championship. JGR really focuses on making everyone feel important and part of the team. I love the high morals and values that keep the team grounded.
What has been one of your biggest challenges?
To grow and learn alongside all the different NASCAR changes with the cars and stay current with equipment in our department. Also, this economy and the added challenges that it brings when we have run into a few sponsor losses and had to let any employees in our department go.
What moment will always remember from Joe Gibbs Racing?
Going to New York for the first JGR championship that Bobby Labonte won. Jut being able to stay in the Waldorf Astoria, and the big championship party with all the NASCAR drivers there was an amazing experience.
Second to that, would be the same experience with JGR and Tony Stewart’s first championship.
How have you seen Joe Gibbs Racing change over the past 20 years?
Stepping into the NASCAR race field as sort of a “Mom & Pop” company, and growing into what we are now- a force to be reckoned with! It is also neat to see JD follow in his father’s footsteps, and what a fine young leader and family man he is, who cares about everyone he comes in contact with.
What was the first year at JGR like?
I had never sat down and watched an entire NASCAR race until I started working for JGR. It was definitely a very humble beginning and our equipment in the showcar department was old and outdated by anyone else’s standards. Back then we used an old Days of Thunder car without an engine. We were like a necessary evil and called ourselves a red headed stepchild. But now we are the team that everyone wants to be on and drive for.
Our sponsors have come to know excellence as the standard whenever one of our show cars is displayed at an event. They never question the showcar department’s standard of excellence.
What has been your favorite part of working at Joe Gibbs Racing?
First and foremost I would say the people, my teammates, my boss, the freedom to do my job and the Gibb’s family and what they stand for. I am now hooked on NASCAR and the competition and I couldn’t have found a better team to be associated with. I have been blessed these past 20 years.