Jimmy Makar is in his eighth season as senior vice president of racing operations for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), but has been an essential figure in the organization since it first took to the track.
Makar is responsible for overseeing all aspects of competition for JGR’s three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, including the No. 18 M&Ms team, the No. 20 Home Depot team and the No. 11 FedEx team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Cedar Knolls, N.J., native also oversees all activities on the shop floor of JGR’s expansive headquarters.
Before his role as senior vice president, Makar spent eight seasons as crew chief for Bobby Labonte and the No. 18 Interstate Batteries team. During that time, Makar and Labonte won the 2000 series championship, the 2000 Brickyard 400, scored 19 victories, 20 poles and 143 top-10 finishes.
From 1992 to 1994, Makar was the crew chief for Dale Jarrett during his three-year stint at JGR behind the wheel of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries machine. Jarrett and Makar won two races, including JGR’s first NASCAR victory – the 1993 Daytona 500.
Makar worked with Penske Racing South and driver Rusty Wallace for the first 17 races of the 1991 season, where he scored his first victory as a crew chief at the spring Bristol (Tenn.) race, before becoming one of JGR’s first employees in the summer of 1991, nearly six months before the team’s first race.
In 1990, Makar became a crew chief for the first time as he worked with Wallace for seven races at Blue Max Racing. Makar worked at Blue Max from 1985 to 1990 and was the chassis specialist when Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship.
Before spending the 1984 season with Junior Johnson’s team, Makar worked with owner Ron Benfield and crew chief Buddy Parrott from 1981-1983. Prior to that, Makar spent two seasons under the tutelage of veteran crew chief Harry Hyde.
Makar began his NASCAR career in 1976 when his father bought a Cup Series car to compete in a limited schedule that season. The car was damaged in an accident and Makar, who was living in New Jersey at the time, was chosen to take it to respected car builder Robert Gee in Charlotte, N.C., and assist with the repairs. After spending a couple of weeks at Gee’s shop, Makar was offered a job by Gee. Two weeks after he returned to New Jersey, Makar accepted the job, moved to Charlotte and worked at Gee’s shop until 1979.
Makar currently resides in Statesville, N.C., with wife Patti and children Alex and Dillon.