ESPN Network: | | | | ABCSports | EXPN | INSIDER | FANTASY   

Gordon, a boy and his car

Monday, June 21, 2004
The Rainbow Warrior
By Mike Puma
Special to

Signature Race
Feb. 16, 1997 - When Jeff Gordon won the Daytona 500, he became the race's youngest winner at 25 years and six months.

"I want to be in this sport a long time," Gordon said, "so I don't pay much attention to age. I just know it's going to hurt some day when the young guys start passing me."

He averaged 148.295 miles per hour in a race marred by eight caution flags covering 29 laps. On the 111th lap, Gordon appeared in trouble when his right rear tire almost went flat. After a pit stop in which he had all four tires replaced, Gordon moved methodically toward the lead, with the help of caution flags.

Ten laps from the finish, Dale Earnhardt slammed into a wall after Gordon passed him on the inside. The two were battling for second place at the time. "What I did didn't cause him to have a wreck," Gordon said.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Gordon's first ride was a quarter-midget car bought for $400 by his stepfather.

  • In 1979, Gordon won 52 quarter-midget races.

  • At 11, Gordon won all 25 of his go-kart races.

  • In his first year of sprint-car racing in 1986, Gordon had three wins in 60 feature races.

  • When Gordon was granted a USAC license in 1987 at 16, he was the youngest driver to obtain such a license.

  • For $25,000, Gordon's stepfather built young Jeff a sprint car.

  • Gordon joined the cross-country team at Tri-West High School in Lizton, Ind., to stay in shape for racing.

  • He was voted prom king as a senior in 1989.

  • In the late 1980s, Gordon raced sprint cars in Australia and New Zealand.

  • By 21, Gordon had won more than 600 races in various types of cars.

  • Gordon began the 1992 season driving for Bill Davis, but finished with Hendrick Motorsports.

  • In 1993, Gordon - at 21 - became the youngest driver to capture a Daytona 500 qualifying race when he won in his first start there, in a 125-mile event.

  • When he began dating his future wife Brooke, the two kept the relationship a secret because Miss Winston models weren't supposed to date drivers. He proposed to her at the 1994 Daytona 500.

  • By 25, Gordon had endorsement deals with Kellogg's, Ray-Ban sunglasses and Edy's ice cream.

  • Gordon started JG Motorsports to manage his licensing business. The company receives up to 20 percent of the revenue from the Gordon-licensed products on the market.

  • In 1997, Gordon became only the second driver to win the Winston Million's $1 million bonus for winning three prestigious races (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500) in one season.

  • Gordon-licensed products generated sales of about $112 million in 1998.

  • In 1998, Gordon won the first Pepsi 400 run at night at Daytona.

  • He drives car No. 24.

  • Gordon typically loses eight pounds during a race.

  • When Gordon was married to Brooke, the two usually stayed to themselves and were detached from the other drivers.

  • In 1999, the Gordons moved into a $10.5-million, beach-front mansion in Highland Beach, Fla.

  • In 2003, Gordon established a residence in New York City, where his girlfriend Amanda Church lives.

  • In the October 2003 issue of Playboy, the magazine published nude photos of exotic dancer and model Deanna Merryman, who said she had an 11-month affair with Gordon while he was married.

  • Once a devout Christian, Gordon says he's interested in religion, but has a difficult time focusing on one particular faith.

  • Gordon has lobbied NASCAR officials to replace volunteer safety workers at tracks with a full-time unit.

    Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories