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Racer Profile: Jimmy Makar

An Opinion

February 14, 2008

By Allen Madding

Allen Madding
Born in Morristown, New Jersey on March 24, 1956, one would have to have a vivid imagination to figure out how Jimmy Makar became involved in the traditionally southern sport of NASCAR. In 1976, Makar’s father purchased a car to compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series on a limited schedule. When the car was involved in an on-track crash and needed to be repaired, his father chose 20-year old Makar to make the trip from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina to take the car to Robert Gee’s shop. Makar spent a couple of weeks at Gee’s shop and Gee in turned offered him a job.

Makar subsequently accepted the offer and worked in for Gee thru 1979 when he accepted an offer to work as a mechanic for Harry Hyde. Car owner Ron Benfield and crew chief Buddy Parrott hired Makar in 1981 and he worked with their operation thru the 1983 season. Makar was hired by Junior Johnson in 1984 and then joined the team of Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Racing. In 1989, Makar was the chassis specialist on the team when Rusty Wallace won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship. In 1990, Makar was named crew chief for the team.

In 1991, Rusty Wallace signed to drive for Roger Penske’s Penske Racing South team. Wallace arranged for Makar to join him at Penske. After 17 races into the season, Makar accepted an offer by NFL Washington Redskins owner Joe Gibbs to join his upstart NASCAR Winston Cup team. Makar hired on as one of the new team’s first employees and began the task of organizing a new team.

In 1992, Makar began serving as the crew chief for Gibb’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet and driver Dale Jarrett, Makar’s brother-in-law. Together they recorded the team’s first victory in the 1993 Daytona 500. At the end of 1994, Jarrett chose to part ways with the team in order to drive for Robert Yates Racing.

Makar elected to remain at Joe Gibbs Racing, and Bobby Labonte was hired to drive the No. 18 car. Makar and Labonte teamed up for 8 seasons in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and recorded 19 victories and the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship.

At the end of the 2002 season, Makar was appointed to the position of Senior Vice President of Racing Operations at Joe Gibbs Racing. He is responsible for overseeing the No. 18 Interstate Batteries team, the No. 20 Home Depot team and the No. 11 FedEx team, and all racing operations. Additionally, Makar assists the engineering department and plays a major role in the aerodynamic development of all Joe Gibbs Racing cars.

Makar was instrumental in implementing the use of the seven-post shaker rig at Joe Gibbs Racing for determining the best shock and spring combinations for the various conditions at each race track.

Additionally, Makar has been in the thick of the decision making process when Joe Gibbs Racing elected to go to Toyotas for 2008. Makar said the decision prompted extended internal debate. "The hardest thing to do in racing is change, especially when you're winning, especially when you're on top," Makar said. "That was a very difficult decision."

Discuss this and other racing matters in the Prodigys@Speed Forum

You can contact Allen Madding at .. Insider Racing News

The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.

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