If you're a NASCAR fan, then you've definitely heard of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. The squad's amassed seven championships and 330 huge wins since they first got established in 1992. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett and a ton of other drivers are a part of the Joe Gibbs' family. While drivers get most of the credit, the team behind the driver is just as important to winning, which is why everyone's shocked at what happened with JJ Damato.
What happened to JJ Damato?
The Joe Gibbs Racing team employee was a vice president of marketing services for the squad and passed away suddenly by causes that are still unknown. Tributes for the man who was so influential in the world of racing began pouring in online. JGR released a statement on Twitter, applauding JJ for being a pleasure to work with.
"JJ Damato spent his time making those around him happier. He spread positivity wherever he went: JGR, #NASCAR, or other places he once called home. He gifted us great friendship & an example of how to treat others. We are greatly saddened by his loss & praying for his family."
The rest of their statement gives a big glimpse into the kind of person JJ was, and it's extremely heartwarming.
"JJ Damato was a person who spent his time making those around him happier. He could make his best friends belly-laugh, and then turn around and make a stranger feel like a life-long friend. His one-in-a-million personality left a mark of positivity and encouragement wherever he went, whether at JGR, #NASCAR, or other places he once called home."
"He gifted us with great stories to tell, but even more importantly: great friendship and an example of how to treat others well. We are experiencing great sadness over his loss and keeping his daughters, fiancée, family, and friends in our thoughts and prayers. Love you JJ."
Prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race in Talladega, a moment of silence was held for JJ, and a special decal was created that both JGR and a ton of other teams rocked in order to honor the longtime employee.
JJ's brother, Kenneth Damato, commented on the outpouring of support from other NASCAR employees as well as fans of the sport from all over the internet.
"I am so overwhelmed with the messages I have gotten from so many people, I know I need to make sure there is the proper way to celebrate JJ’s life and not during a pandemic and not while we are all grieving. NASCAR is going to include him in the prayer before the race, they are putting a JJ Damato logo on the 4 Joe Gibbs race cars and his buddy Joey Logano is putting it on his car as well..."
Kenneth continued in his Facebook post: "he has thousands of friends between Charlotte and Jersey so we are going to break the celebration In to a north and south events …. more to follow. I have to figure out what I’m doing with the burial but my instincts having him laid to rest next to my son Michael in New Jersey…"
JJ's family has yet to make a public obituary regarding his death. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his loved ones in this trying time.