CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Even in the Redskins' Super Bowl years, Washington coach Joe Gibbs sometimes "fantasized" about another sport -- NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car racing, he conceded yesterday.
"My affection for fast automobiles came about in high school when I was hanging around the hamburger joints in California and we admired street rods," recalled Gibbs from the Redskins' preseason training camp in Carlisle, Pa. "I eventually got into drag racing and had a top fuel car. When that blew up, I figured it probably ended my racing career."
Hardly. Gibbs announced yesterday that he has become a Winston Cup team owner, with NASCAR veteran Dale Jarrett as driver, Jimmy Makar as crew chief and Ed Carroll as general manager on the outfit that starts racing in 1992. Sponsorships include Interstate Batteries, NFL Properties, Juice Bowl and Marriott for the operation, which will be based in Charlotte.
In another development yesterday, it was confirmed that NASCAR Grand National standings leader Kenny Wallace will become a Winston Cup regular next year as driver of the Pontiacs fielded by Team III Racing.
"I feel I'm ready for the challenge of Winston Cup racing," said Wallace, 27, younger brother of 1989 Winston Cup champion Rusty Wallace.
Gibbs, a native of Mocksville, N.C., said he has the blessing of Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to undertake the NASCAR program. "When I inquired about it, he compared me owning a race car to his owning a race horse," Gibbs said. "Starting with the Daytona 500 in February, I'll get to attend about half the races before returning to football. I don't have to be present for the cars to go fast."
Gibbs said his cars, carrying No. 18 and a black-green-red paint scheme, will be powered by motors from Hendrick Motorsports.
"Our goal? Well, we've got to be realistic," Gibbs said. "I know it's very hard to win. But, like football, it's a people business and I think we've got good people."
Said Jarrett, 34, a Grand National winner still seeking a first Winston Cup triumph after coming close several times: "I look for us to be a winning, successful team, and I think others in the sport do, too."