Random News - January 1999

Bickford Moves To England
HARRISBURG, N.C. (January 24)- - John Bickford, the stepfather of Jeff Gordon, will be moving to England in order to oversee Action Performance's two European affiliates, which manufacture clothing and die-cast race car models, respectively, as well as coordinate Action's relationships in Formula One racing. Bickford is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Action Performance Inc. and is expected to remain in Europe for two years. Gordon has credited his stepfather as being the driving force behind his racing career.

And Then A Hero Comes Along...
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C (January 17)- - Last Sunday, Jeff Gordon visited the Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to give sick children a gift they had been asking for: himself. "It's very heart-breaking because here you are living a life that couldn't get any better and you're seeing somebody whose life almost couldn't get any worse," said Gordon. "If there is any way I can help, if there is anything I can do, if it's inspiration to somebody because he or she is a fan of mine, that's the easiest thing I could ever do. I know that I can't fix anything and that I can't change anything for them. When you see that you wish that you could." Gordon meets with seriously ill children at hospitals and at the track through organizations such as the Starlight Foundation and the Make A Wish Foundation. "It's humbling to me that I am able to put a smile on somebody's face and make their day and see somebody who rarely has a smile on their face be able to smile," he said. (TR)

The Preferred Parts
HARRISBURG, N.C. (January 16)- - Advance Auto Parts has signed on as an associate sponsor on Jeff Gordon's car for the 1999 season. Advance Auto Parts leads the industry in parts availability, price, and customer service. But more than anything, the company has valued the hard work, dedication, and commitment of its employees. Today, more than 15,000 Advance Auto Parts employees have committed themselves to bigger and brighter futures as the company enters the new millennium.

A Trip Down Memory Lane
HARRISBURG, N.C (January 14)- - As Jeff Gordon prepares for the 1999 season, the focus is clearly on a fourth Winston Cup title. It's hard to believe that just ten years ago, Gordon was a sprint car driver trying to make a name for himself. Greg Zyla, a writer for Performance Racing Industry Magazine, sent in this recollection of Jeff Gordon's sprint car days.

"I'll never forget back in 1987 or '88, he came to Selinsgrove Speedway in central Pennsylvania to compete against the big boys of outlaw sprint car racing, including several WOO drivers. The central Pa. teams are some of the best in the country. Jeff started way back in the feature, and I think he ran eighth or ninth. From that day on, I knew Jeff Gordon was a real race car driver. Selinsgrove is an ultra-fast 1/2 mile dirt track, with speeds well over 125 on the straights. I guess I'll remember this most about him, because no one ever came to Selinsgrove at his age and did what he did. No he didn't win, but to come through the pack and finish in the top 10 was quite an accomplishment. By the way, the car he drove that night, the Shoff No. 23, is the only car to my knowledge that Gordon was ever fired from as a driver. Evidently, the team never 'clicked,' and Jeff only ran a few races."

Resisting The Breweries
GULF STREAM, FLA. (January 8)- - Jeff Gordon has been rated as the fourth most popular pitchman in sports behind Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods. Companies have been clamoring for a commercial endorsement from him. However, he has chosen not to endorse a product considered a staple among stock car fans: beer. Gordon has been approached by a number of breweries asking his endorsement of their product. Even though it would bring in about $500,000 annually, he has turned them down. "I'm image conscious, especially since I got married, and doing beer commercials, that's just not me," he says. "I know people have criticized me as being phony, but that's not true. I have a happy life, a wonderful wife and I try not to do things that go counter to that atmosphere. I thank God every day for blessing me and all the people around me."

The Paint Scheme
HARRISBURG, N.C. (January 4)- - In 1999, DuPont will make a minor alteration to the paint scheme on Jeff Gordon's car. DuPont plans to promote different aspects of the company on the hood of the car. Whether it be new products or familiar DuPont products needing a marketing "push," expect to see additional writing on the hood of the car besides the traditional DuPont oval in various events in 1999. (GCM)

Year End News
HARRISBURG, N.C. (January 2)- - In March 1998, Jeff Gordon participated in an autograph session to raise money for Charles Hayward, a UNC-Charlotte basketball recruit diagnosed with leukemia. The year end issue of Sports Illustrated had an update on Hayward. In May, his leukemia was determined to be in remission and he returned to the team in the fall. He currently comes in off the bench averaging about 8 points a game. The tattoo on Hayward's left arm says it all: "Survivor."

In the same year-end double issue, Jeff Gordon was featured in the photo gallery. The picture showed Gordon dressed in a formal tuxedo leaning against a Rolls Royce in an old garage. Included are comments from Charles Barkley about the NASCAR champion.

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