CONCORD, N.C. – With more than 600 team members in the organization, there are stories all across the Hendrick Motorsports campus.
With that in mind, we’re taking the chance to give fans a glimpse at all of the many sides of Hendrick Motorsports.
Below, you’ll meet Josh Gibson, who works in the chassis shop.
And he’s got a fun twist to his job – he gets to bring a dog to work every day.
What’s your position at Hendrick Motorsports?
“I’m a fabricator in the chassis shop at Hendrick Motorsports. I’ve been here for – it will be 23 years in June. Started out just sweeping the floors and basic welding and fabrication, whatever they needed, and progressed my way up through. Now, I’m on a main surface plate and build the chassis. I went from just building a portion, which was the front clip of the race car, to building the whole car, so it’s evolved for me quite a bit in 23 years.”
Twenty-three years is a long time – what is it about Hendrick Motorsports that has kept you here?
“This place has been here for me for some personal things and my family. When I was younger, they stepped in and were really good to me and my family. I’m indebted to Mr. Hendrick for that.
“I’m personally vested in it. I love this place. I’m a Hendrick fan – I love me some Rick Hendrick. I’ve seen a lot of good people, met a lot of good friends. You can look at other places you want to go, but this place is a class act – you can’t go anywhere but down from here.”
You get to bring a dog with you to work every day – why is that?
“This is a great story, by the way. My wife Rebecca trains border collies, so I got some experience with how smart the dog is and what it can do. I had asked Allen Parks if we could come over here and teach the dogs how to swim in the pond on campus. He said that was fine, so we came over one Saturday. It was right when Mr. Hendrick was stocking the pond with fish, and we saw something like 30 cormorants. Now, that’s the five-pound bird that eats twice its body weight a day in fish, so you can imagine 30 cormorants out there on the pond. They were just pushing the fish to one side and feasting.
"So, that Monday, I told Allen, ‘You’ve got a cormorant problem out there. These birds are going to eat all of Mr. Hendrick’s fish.’ By that Wednesday, he came down and asked, ‘You think you can bring one of your dogs you like to come out here?’ That’s how it got started. We were here every day for two weeks and just doing a heavy push on them, trying to get them gone.
"It evolved into then the geese came in that season then and they wanted the geese gone, particularly with Mr. Hendrick using a helicopter in the area. Allen was just like, we’ll just keep it all gone. And so that’s how it evolved.
It just kept growing from there?
“From there, I started bringing a dog, she was 7 months old – a young dog – and just learning. There were some ducks up on the helipad, so she took off after them when she got up there. There’s rip rap that runs down the backside, so she never looked and she went off into that rip rap and broke her wrist.
“Turns out, it was a compound fracture in her wrist, she broke three toes and she needed surgery. I had called Allen to tell him what was going on, and he said, ‘Give me 15 minutes and I’ll call you back.’
“As it turns out, Hendrick Motorsports paid for the full procedure. Again, I talk about it being personal. That’s what this place does and that’s what Mr. Hendrick stands for. They went above and beyond to really look after the benefit of the dog. This place didn’t have to do that. This is family around here, and it is.
“The surgery went great – it was 100 percent successful and she’s got full flexion in her leg now. She didn’t miss a beat.”
Do you bring the same dog to campus every time?
“I bring different dogs as we’re training them for the tasks. My wife rescues a lot of these border collies, so we get dogs in that have been in a kennel their whole life, we had dogs that have been in an apartment their whole life, never been out running around on the farm there’s dogs that or puppies that are just born and raised in a kennel and only seen two people their whole lives so they’ve not really had a socialization or interaction.
“It’s cool to be able to bring those type of dogs here to help rehabilitate because in my shop, there are a lot of men, so that can be intimidating for a dog. The floor surfaces are very slick, so that’s intimidating for a dog. You get various different scenarios by bringing a young dog here just exposed to a lot – a lot of loud noise.
“In our field and what the dogs do, they’re out in the public, they’re in parks, they’re on corporate facilities like this so you need to have control, and you need to have a good-tempered dog that you can trust around people and kids and that kind of thing. So, it’s beneficial to be able to bring them around all this unfamiliar territory.”
Who do you bring around these days?
“Hoop – he’s is Bette’s nephew, which is the dog that I just told the story about. He didn’t show a whole lot of promise right out of the gate – no bird drive. At 10 weeks old, he was roughhousing and broke his leg. When they casted his leg, all his growth plates fused together, so it essentially made a peg-leg and he was dragging it around. We took him to a couple orthopedics and they said he’ll never use it again, you need to take it off. So, we took the leg off and he never looked back.
“I started bringing him with me every day to work and just slowly and slowly, for whatever reason, he’s turned on the birds and swims like a fish. I guess that maybe that leg was just such a hindrance to him that he appreciates life more now. He’s a lively dog for a three-legged dog. We call him Hoop.
“He comes with me every day and if it’s something that if there’s a lot of geese that he can’t get rid out by himself, my wife will roll through here with a van load of dogs and she’ll get rid of them.”
Do your coworkers enjoy having the dogs around, too?
“Yeah, it’s cool. From time to time, I’ll bring a different dog just depending on if we have a young dog or something like that it’s really good here to socialize. We have a kennel in the back of the shop. I’ll usually run him in the mornings and then we’ll go again when I’m on my break and again at lunch. It’s fun because on tours, they’ll see me on campus. Even today, some fans came out of the shop when I was walking up with Hoop and it gives me the chance to explain. They’re always like, ‘Man, it’s so cool you can bring a dog. We’d love that.’”
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