2001 Las Vegas Fan Club Meeting

LAS VEGAS, NV.- - The second of four Jeff Gordon National Fan Club meetings this year took place on Friday, March 2 at the Lied Discovery Museum on the Las Vegas Strip. More than 130 fans were in attendance to meet Jeff Gordon.

George and Sandy Champlin organized the event and sent in the following report. Photos were taken by Raeann Catanese and Sandy.

By Sandy Champlin

The smaller number of fans gave the event a feeling of intimacy almost like being at home with Jeff Gordon as your guest. The meeting began with a moment of silence in honor of Dale Earnhardt. Jeff was delayed by traffic, yes, traffic but it gave us a chance to get acquainted. You can imagine our delight to find that Larry Sparks, who was Jeff's driver's education teacher from Tri-West High School in Indiana, had arrived to surprise him. We were kept entertained with personal insights about Jeff's early years, including the story of Jeff petitioning the school board to get two weeks off to go race in Australia. The school board declined his request stating that it did not pertain to a chosen profession. That brought a roar of laughter!

Wow, wouldn't you just love to get your hands on the minutes of that meeting? The punchline, of course, is that Jeff did go to Australia to race and the rest is history. The Fan Club provided 100 door prizes which we began handing out until Jeff arrived after qualifying. He was welcomed with huge cheers and applause. Jeff addressed the fans with insights about qualifying and took several questions before starting the autograph portion of the meeting. Every member in attendance got their precious opportunity to spend a few moments with Jeff. Excitement and anticipation reverberated through the room. Many members took the time to voice their appreciation.

When all the autographs were completed, Jeff answered more questions mainly concerning driver safety. He did say that he would be trying a safety device to protect his head and neck during the Saturday practice. He urged us all not to believe everything that is being said on either side of the safety issue. He assured us that his team is researching all the aspects of improved safety. It meant a lot to hear this directly from him. When it was time for him to leave, we sent him off with more cheers and thanks for having spent this time with us.

We gave out the last of the door prizes, with the final one being a Pepsi banner signed by Jeff that night. Appropriately it was won by a very happy young fan named Jeff.

Jeff and George Champlin
Jeff speaks while George Champlin looks on
Talking about safety
Larry Sparks and Jeff reminisce about days gone by

Jeff at the podium
Jeff addresses the members in attendance
Talking about safety
The issue of driver safety was discussed

JGNFC meeting
Jeff chats with Larry Sparks
Jeff in Las Vegas
Looking ahead to race weekend

JGNFC meeting
The teacher and his star pupil
Signing autographs
Raeann gets an autograph from Jeff

Heading out
Exit stage left

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