J.D. Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs Racing‘s namesake and chairman in the NASCAR team, passed away Friday night after battling brain issues that he had entered treatment for in 2015.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Joe Gibbs Racing Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, J.D. Gibbs, who passed away tonight at the age of 49 from complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease,” a team statement read. “Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates everyone’s respect for the privacy of the Gibbs family during this difficult time.”
A former college football player, J.D. and his father, a longtime head coach of the National Football League‘s Washington Redskins, formed JGR in 1991. In the decades since, the team has become one of the finest on the NASCAR circuit. Gibbs also raced for the family-owned team at the turn of the century in the Craftsman Truck (now Gander Outdoors Truck Series) and Busch (now Xfinity) Series. He also served as Team President and assisted in various aspects of the organisation like pit crews.
The team’s #11, currently driven by Denny Hamlin, was the number worn by Gibbs during his football career. Hamlin and Gibbs maintained a close friendship, the former gaining his ride at JGR after catching Gibbs’ eye early in his racing career. Since the 2017 Daytona 500, Hamlin also featured Gibbs’ signature on his window’s nameplate. For the Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway in 2018, he ran a tribute scheme to Gibbs.
“His car. His number. His signature above my door,” Hamlin posted on Twitter. “I will always be grateful for what His family did for mine and the opportunity he gave me 14 years ago. Now more than ever
“If you want to know how to live life the right way and leave a legacy that will last forever-look no further than the example JD Gibbs set for all of us,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell tweeted. “A great leader, a man of faith, a family man and a friend. Rest In Peace JD.”