February 13 - - Jeff Gordon kicks off the NASCAR season on Saturday night
in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon has two victories in the event, having scored the wins in 1994 and 1997. The last one came
in a special DuPont Chroma Premier paint scheme, which was Gordon's first deviation from the traditional Rainbow Warriors scheme he used
since his entry into the Cup series at the end of the 1992 season.
The 1997 Busch Clash (later renamed the Budweiser Shootout, and then the Sprint Unlimited) was the last running of the
pre-season exhibition under the 20-lap format. For 1997, NASCAR broke the race into two 10-lap segments.
Gordon ran a relatively lackluster first segment and finished 12th out of 14 cars. That allowed
him to start third in the final 10-lap segment. On the second lap, he took the lead from Bobby Labonte and
was not seriously challenged for the top spot before crossing the finish line ahead of Rusty Wallace.
The years have flown by since he won the exhibition event on February 9, 1997. Here's a look
how things were in February 1997:
Average cost of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline: $1.23
Average cost of new house: $124,100.
Average income per year: $37,000.
Average cost of new car: $16,900.
Average cost of a loaf of bread: $1.17.
Average cost of a movie ticket: $4.59.
People bought CDs and VHS tapes. VH-what??
The world population was 5.8 billion people. It is now over 7 billion.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 7,000 for the first time. It is now in the 18,000 range.
President Clinton began his second term in office just two weeks prior.
Tony Blair had not yet taken office as Prime Minister of England.
Barack Obama was a newly-elected State Senator in Illinois's 13th District.
Sarah Palin was elected mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. You betcha!
Mother Teresa, The Notorious B.I.G, and Princess Diana were all still alive.
Nobody knew what Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Wikipedia were. They didn't even know what Napster was.
The TV show "Family Guy" was 2 years away from its debut episode.
Among the debuts in 1997: "King Of The Hill," "Ally McBeal," and "South Park."
"Roseanne" and "Married With Children" aired their final episodes that spring.
Nobody knew what Blu-Ray or HD was.
Winamp was 2 months away from being released.
Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, and Webcrawler were the search engines of choice.
Netscape had the lion's share of the web browsing market.
Internet Explorer 4 was the latest version of the popular browser.
Google Inc. was more than a year away from being founded.
Windows95 was the operating system of choice.
'MMMbop' was a chart-topping hit. Enough said.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a 7th grader in New York.
The world was more than 4 years away from its first BlackBerry.
'Titanic' was the top-grossing movie at the box office.
Hockey legends Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were teammates on the New York Rangers, after winning
4 Stanley Cups together in Edmonton.
Sidney Crosby was 9 years old and living in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Peyton Manning was finishing his junior year at the University of Tennessee.
Eli Manning was a high school sophomore quarterback at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.
Taylor Swift was 7 years old and living on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania.
Justin Bieber was a month away from his 3rd birthday.
Jimmie Johnson was racing off-road trucks trying for the Crandon Governor's Cup.
Kyle Busch was 11 years old and serving as a dwarf car mechanic on his older brother's car in Las Vegas.
Joey Logano was 6 years old.
Danica Patrick was 14 years old and racing go-karts in the midwest.
Fans still sat on 'the hill' to watch races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
There had not yet been a NASCAR Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway,
Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway, or Kentucky Speedway.
Jeff Gordon had yet to win a road course race -- and had just 19 career wins in the Cup series.
Chad Knaus was a tire changer on Gordon's crew.
Of the 14 drivers in the 1997 Busch Clash, the only driver still remaining in the sport is Jeff Gordon.
Jeff Gordon won $54,000 for the victory (By comparison, Kurt Busch received $203,000 in 2011).