Stewart-Haas Racing’s Tony Gibson played a key role behind the scenes in the production of “The Crew” on Netflix.
Gibson, who has six wins as a crew chief, including the 2017 Daytona 500, was so instrumental in helping actor Kevin James with some inspiration for the show that James based the lead character’s name off of him – Kevin Gibson.
Now the production manager at Stewart-Haas, Gibson brought his knowledge of working in NASCAR for over 30 years to Gold Coast Studios in New York as an advisor to the show. Gibson first met James at Homestead-Miami Speedway where he showed him the inner-workings of the sport during a race weekend.
“He’s been so helpful, helping me and he came on set,” James said. “He knew the exact line to draw and be like, this is what it would be like. He’s been teaching me so much about the aspects of all of it. About assembling the team and what you got to do as a leader. It’s just such a cool thing for me to be part of.
“It’s just exciting. It’s just a world that I didn’t know about but I’m learning more and more about it and it’s incredible. It’s fun.”
Gibson spent three days on the set in the early production and helped with the layout of the shop for fictional Bobby Spencer Racing.
“They’re working with really small areas believe it or not,” Gibson said. “It looks big on TV, but they’re really small areas that they do these shots in. So, it was interesting to try to help kind of orchestrate a little bit of the layout of the scenes and layout of the shop itself.
“They were picking my brain and, you know, the whole time we’re doing this I’m trying to understand what they’re doing because it was interesting to me to see how much money went into to making something for five seconds. And then you know, seeing how it all comes together and how the whole deal operates. It was pretty amazing.”
See Also: Watch “The Crew” Trailer
Long hours were spent each day on the production of the show just like in the NASCAR world at the race shop with preparation of cars for the next race weekend.
“It’s insane the amount of work and the hours that they would work,” Gibson said. “You know, we would get there at around 6:30 or 7 in the morning, and they were already there getting started, getting their things together. We would leave around 8 or 9 that night and those guys would stay there and work till midnight, 1 o’clock on getting ready what needed to be changed to start the next day.”
Along with the last name, James also took some of the stories and ideas from Gibson and placed them in the show. Gibson and his wife, Beth, got to experience some of tapings live.
“My wife and I were standing right there while they’re doing the scenes and doing all the practice stuff and she looked at me and she said, ‘this thing is about you. Like, this is your life.’
“There’s a lot of things that are in it that remind me of me coming up and getting to where I am today.”
Sarah Stiles’ character in the show – the office manager of Bobby Spencer Racing – is also named Beth.
“My wife, she’s pretty pumped because you know, the lead lady is Beth. So, her first name and my last name, so we were pretty pumped about that.”
The time spent at the studios and getting to know James is something Gibson will never forget.
“We started talking about hunting and fishing and the things that I was passionate of doing, you know, and then he would open up and talk about the things that his family and what they love to do,” Gibson said. “And so to be one-on-one and kind of get on ground level with somebody like that was pretty amazing. And all the writers and, you know, those guys have done some huge movies and to be sitting in a room with those guys just shooting the crap with those guys was pretty amazing.”
Since Netflix’s release of the 10 episodes on Feb. 15, Gibson has kept in contact with James, text messaging him after each show he watched.
“Some of the scenes in there that really touch my life,” Gibson said. “Some of the things he took out of my life and plugged in there is pretty funny to watch. So yeah, I’m enjoying it.”