50 may 2015
days of wonder
Although Jeff Gordon will quit racing
full time after 2015, he won’t lack for
things to occupy his time. As the
four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ
put it earlier this year, “Retirement
means you go off to a beach, or sit in
a rocking chair on the front porch and
drink your coffee and pet your dog.
That’s not me. I plan on working.”
Gordon is an equity partner in
Hendrick Motorsports, and team
owner Rick Hendrick intends to keep
him busy on sponsor relationships and
helping Gordon’s successor, Chase
Elliott, transition into Sprint Cup.
Says Hendrick: “Where I know he
can help us a lot is as a spokesman in
marketing, working with sponsors,
coaching Chase on how to avoid the
pitfalls of a young star. The world of
social media and the way our sponsors
want content, the way our dealerships
use him and all the social stuff we’re
doing – he can be a big part of all that.”
Expect Gordon to also spend more
time on his philanthropic efforts. The
Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation,
has so far raised more than $15m in
the fight against pediatric cancer.
Should he choose to pursue it, Jeff
will also have the option of working in
TV. And he really does want to spend
more time with his family as well.
“Yeah, I’m a little sad that there’s
going to soon be a day when I step
out of the racecar and it will be for
the last time,” Gordon admits. “But
I knew that day was going to come,
and I think this is the right time.”
He’ll be plenty busy when he quits racing,
but for now, the 2015-spec Jeff Gordon is
concentrating on a final tilt at a fifth Cup.
no T re TIred, pER SE
so muCH left to do
And Duchardt notes that as Gordon
has aged, he’s actually gotten more
involved with the team, not less.
“What I’m impressed with is how
committed he is to continue getting
better, and the amount of time he spends
with his team during the week,” he says.
“It’s probably not something he did with
Ray so much, but he’s doing it now with
Alan [Gustafson, crew chief] and his team.
perfect…I’ve got to wait until next year.’ I
don’t have to wait until next year. It’s just
now. Take advantage of it, enjoy it.”
One thing is for certain: the NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series will change without
Jeff Gordon in the field next year.
“When someone of his caliber isn’t on
the track, it definitely is going to have a
big effect,” says Jimmie Johnson,
Gordon’s teammate since 2001 and a
six-time Cup champion. “This series is
going to be different without him there.
For 23 years he’s been such a force on
the track. Our sport isn’t going to
Adds Gordon’s boss, Rick Hendrick:
“The effect of walking into the garage
area in 2016 and not seeing the 24 car
with Jeff Gordon’s name on it will be a
For Rick and for countless others.
crew turned the
dynamic into a
tryptich. (left) still
got it. JG after his
fifth Brickyard 400
victory last year.
“our sport isn’t going to
necessarily suffer from it,
but it’s just not going to be
the same. he’s jeff Gordon”
And I see the interest he takes in the
technical side of what we do, sitting in on
some of our meetings as we talk about
our future development, for example.”
As for Gordon, knowing that this is his
final season at the wheel has allowed him
to relax in ways he couldn’t before.
“I’ve got this huge mindset advantage
right now, knowing that this is the last
time,” he says. “Get all you can get out of
it, enjoy it, and go to the next one. That’s
not a mindset I’ve ever been able to have
and enjoy before. It’s always been, ‘Oh,
my gosh, you know, if this doesn’t all go