Jeff Visits Chicago

CHICAGO, IL.- - On January 14, Jeff Gordon attended the Driving Championship Dinner at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. The dinner benefitted local Boys and Girls Clubs in the Chicago area. An autograph session was also held as part of the evening. Gordon was honored for his victory in the 1999 Daytona 500. Other notable attendees included IROC Champion Dale Earnhardt, Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack, Winston Cup Champion Dale Jarrett, and Busch Champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mark Laughman attended the event and sent in the following report.
Note: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of 'Jeff Gordon Online.'

By Mark Laughman

Friday night in the "Windy City" was an awesome time. Jeff was in great spirits and I talked with him for a few minutes. Unfortunately I was in front of about 300 other people who wanted to do the same, so communication was woefully short. What a great guy, so down to earth. My wife ended up talking to him quite a bit at the end of the autograph session, Gordon started getting frustrated with several "line jumpers" who had been in line two or three times to get multiple items signed (collectors I am sure, too bad people have to pull that greedy crap when 90% of the people there just wanted to meet their hero). My wife started backing him up ("Yeah, you've been through already"), which was pretty funny. Jeff seemed to really appreciate her piping up. When he was done signing (both he and Dale Jarrett went way over the time allotted, which was I thought was great) he stood up, shook her hand, and thanked her.

Dale Jarrett was really great as well. He seemed to be having a great time with the fans. My wife talked to him for a little bit as well (shy Chicago girl, can't you tell?). Earnhardt, Jr., on the other hand, was a total and complete jerk. Never smiled, never said a single word, had this pained look on his face like he would rather be eating worms than signing autographs. Kim and I could not believe how rude he was to his fans, which of course there were several in attendance. He has a lot to learn in my opinion. If he treats all his fans like that he is going to get a bad reputation real quick. I know that there were quite a few PO'd Chicago fans who will not be singing his praises any longer.

Dinner was quite entertaining. Jarrett and Gordon exchanged barbs over swiping crew members, Ken Squier got several names wrong (what else is new?), and John Force couldn't attend but sent along a funny vidoetaped message. The place was packed as the event had a really great turnout for a great cause. All in all it was a fun night and, best of all, I got to meet a certain Mr. Gordon (finally!).

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