Gilford Hicks Martin, known as Gil was born on the 17th of September 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee. Gil’s involvement in car racing started really by accident. He was more interested in motorcycles at that time and owned a motorcycle shop together with a friend. The boys, aged about twenty years old, used to work part time after school, repairing and building motorbikes. At the same time another of his friends was involved in car racing and had moved from dirt racing to asphalt racing. It just happened that the people who normally helped this friend couldn’t go on weekend so he asked Gil if he could help out. At first he refused, saying he had no interest in motorcar racing but eventually his friend persuaded him to go and that was that, he has been going ever since. There were a group of five of them who travelled around to various tracks on the weekends and the group needed somebody to organise their schedule.
In 1981 Gil took charge and this was his start in a carer as crew chief. He started his NASCAR career in 1989 as a co-owner and crew chief with the #81 FilMar racing team. He stayed with the team until 1997. Gil was taken on by Richard Childress Racing in 2000 with Mike Dillon as the driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the following year, 2001, he was given the chance to be crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series again with the #31 team. In November 2001 he had his first victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with driver Robby Gordon. 2005 saw Gil back in the Nationwide Series and the team finish the season runners up in the final point standings with Clint Bowyer as the driver. Both he and Clint moved across to the Sprint Cup Series in 2006 and Gil led Clint to Chase for the Sprint Cup berths in both 2007 and 2008.
Gil moved to the #7 team with Casey Mears as the driver early in 2009 and in April 2009 he became crew chief to the #29 team with Kevin Harvick at the wheel. Gil was named NASCAR Sprint Cup Crew Chief of the Race on the 2nd of March 2010 after the Shelby American GT 350 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Following a crash in the practice run and a poor qualifying time the team started the race way back in 34th position but Kevin came back quickly into the top twenty cars after only eighteen laps. Calling his driver into the pit on the eighty eighth lap Gil opted for four tyre changes to make for better handling of the car and fuel. Kevin returned to the track and quickly made his way back up through the field. Debris on the track called for a final caution on lap 229, the car returned to the pit, running in fourth place and after a quick and accurate stop to replace two tyres Kevin returned to third position. Kevin passed Jeff Gordon for the second spot but couldn’t catch the leader, Junior Johnson. Kevin finished second to the ’48 for the second consecutive week.
Gill was again named NASCAR Sprint Cup Crew Chief of the Race on the 27th of April after the Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway. Kevin was in third position at the final restart and he was running on empty but Gil decided to take a chance and try to stretch the fuel for the added distance so told Kevin to make his way to second and then to chase the rear bumper of Jamie McMurray’s leading car for almost two laps before, with only a few hundred yards to go, Kevin did a slingshot manoeuvre, taking the lead and winning by mere inches, showing great strategy by Gil. “Two key factors played a role in the No. 29 team’s win today,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative Jeff Hammond. “Losing a sponsor the week of the race could have been detrimental to their performance but Gil didn’t lose focus and kept Harvick in the game. The call to keep Harvick out with just two laps remaining was a gamble but paid off.” In his first full year as Kevin’s crew chief Gil won “Crew Chief of the Year” honours and the team finished third in the final point standings. Currently, he is the NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief for the Richard Childress Racing team with Kevin Harvick driving the #29 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s/Rheem Chevrolet Impala. He is the first Crew Chief to win in all three divisions of Cup, Nationwide, and Truck Series. He is married to wife Ronda and has one son, Ford.
- Mark Martin
- Donnie Wingo
- Drew Blickensderfer
- Kevin Harvick
- Brian Pattie (Crew Chief)