It is no doubt a simple question. However, the answers can be complex.
During the month of May 2003, fans sent in their answers to this question.
Following are more of the responses.
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Tom Wilson - California
Simply put - it's my wife's fault. We were married in 1996 and I had never watched racing before. In 1997 we started watching the California 500 simply because it was so close to where we lived in southern California. My wife started rooting for a car with a rainbow on it because it reminded her of Hawaii which is where we went on our honeymoon. Then we heard them say this Jeff Gordon guy was originally from California and drove a Chevrolet. Once I heard all of that I knew I would be rooting for the #24 car too! We all know who went on to win that race and since that victory I have been a huge Jeff Gordon/NASCAR fan. It has also been nice to learn of the many children and charities that Jeff helps support. After all of the time and money we have spent supporting JG, I know my wife sometimes regrets what she started that day!
Back in 1998, I attended my first race at the NHIS in July. At this time, I needed a driver to support. That day, Jeff Gordon lead most of the laps and took home the win. After learning more about Jeff: we are the same age, clean-cut, same height (I think), I decided to throw my support behind Jeff. In the Second to last race of that season at the Rock, my buddies and I went there and watched Jeff capture the Championship. What a day that was. Since then, I have always supported and routed for Jeff. Though I will probably never get to meet Jeff, I will always defend him against the "Anybody but JG" crowd. I now live in Florida and I make the Daytona 500 my yearly race event that I attend.
Why am I a Jeff Gordon fan? Mostly because he is a serious racer. He is patient, knows what the car should and should not do. He is a clean driver, aggressive, but clean. He is a truly great role model. He seldom if ever has anything to say about anyone that is not in the positive. He realizes that stuff happens when you are racing. I have listened in on his in-car audio and I can say that I have never been offended by off color language. Yes, he gets angry but his angry is seasoned with four letter words. That is not the way to communicate. I also respect the way that he keeps his private life "private". He is a great driver and a good person.
Lill Kress - New York
Why I'm a Jeff Gordon fan is really simple-- the man is a hero. The way the world is today, you need a hero. And that would be Jeff Gordon.
David Zelman - California
I started watchin Nascar at an early age (5). My dad was a Dale Jarrett fan so i pulled for him. But when I saw Jeff win the inaugural Brickyard 400, that was it for me and i was a Jeff Gordon fan for life. I am even more so a JG fan since Pheonix last year. When he was done qualifying he was walking back to his RV and he was swamped by people. He was done signing and started to walk away. I jumped around the side of him dressed in all my JG gear (I had my 4x champ jacket on, my matching flame hat, and a jg shirt). I held my 1/18 flame car out and said, "Jeff, one more for your biggest fan please." He came over and shook my hand. We exchanged a few pleasant words and he signed my car for me.... and let's just say Dale Jr dissed me about five minutes earlier when i asked him for his autograph. So now no matter what I'm a Gordon fan for life!
Mark Gresh - Pennsylvania
In 1993, I went my wife's friends house and they were having a Daytona 500 party. We get to her friends house and everybody has these different racing shirts on. I had no clue what was going on or who was who in Nascar racing other than Richard Petty. So before the race started everybody was putting like five bucks into a pot and picking who they wanted to win. So I decided to get into the bet, but I had no clue on who to pick. I asked this one guy who I should pick and he told me pick the pretty boy in the rainbow car. Then he started to laugh at me as did everybody else when I picked this guy named Jeff Gordon. Well, needless to say, after all these years I became a diehard Gordon fan and fan of Nascar in general. At the end of the race I think Gordon came in 5th that race and I won a few bucks since top 10 drivers paid out. Now I'm hooked.
Kelly Brown - Texas
Not too long ago my husband asked me that very same question about why I'm a Jeff Gordon fan. I knew what he was fishing for. Yes, Jeff is the best looking driver in Winston Cup. But that isn't the only reason he's top driver in my book. The main reason is that he is a true competitor. No matter, win or lose, he thanks his team and all of those that help him along the way. I am proud to be a Jeff Gordon fan. I can feel my pulse go up just when I see THE CAR. I wish Jeff the very best and hope that at the end of this season we can ALL wear our championship shirts. And another reason... this year my sister and her family took my 12-year-old son to the Texas race, and Colton knows that I am a big Jeff fan, so he went to get his autograph for me. They told me that Jeff got off his bus, or out of a car just for him. I was "teary" because Colton was shocked and his mother was so proud that Jeff took the time for us.
Christine Sewell - Georgia
I have been a Jeff Gordon fan from the first time I heard of him. At first because he was more of an underdog. I have always had an affinity for strays and when he first started racing in the Winston Cup series he just seemed to have strayed in. He made up his mind what to chase, after that four hour lessen from Buck Baker. I am still a Gordon fan because he makes a concerted effort to race as clean and honest as possible. And he still wins. That is the kind of winner I want to be a fan for. In any sport I like to see a clean honest contest for the finish, win or loose. Someone else may be better this time but I want to see honest true effort. Also his caring for other individuals, especially Matt Dahl at Kansas Speedway on September 30, 2001. Here is a young man that lost his Father who was the captain of United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco on September 11, 2001.
Lisa Brewer - Tennessee
Despite the fact that he did not come from a racing family, Jeff has proven to the world that you don't have to be a good ole boy from the south to be a champion, and you can be GQ as well!
Marissa-Joi Lewis - Indiana
I remember the year I became a racing fan. It was late 1997 and I was a junior in high school. I had never much cared for auto racing because I thought it was dumb to pay to watch cars go in a cirle for three hours. I was wrong.
The first race I ever watched was the 1997 Southern 500 in Darlington. At the time, Jeff was eligible to win the Winston Million if he won the race. The race was awesome. Not only did Jeff have to fight off Jeff Burton but he also had to fight off a strong Bill Elliot car and the threatening weather. I was on the edge of my seat the whole race. I woke my Mom up because I was bouncing on her bed while she was napping. And the last ten laps were what racing should be, not how it is today.
What I love most about the win was when he crossed the finish line and he sounded like a teenaged kid. In a sports world where atheletes embarass themelves with chest thumping and such it was nice to hear child like enthusiasm from a professional athelete. I think thats why kids love Jeff so much.
I'm a Gordon fan because it's not easy to be one. It's so easy to be a Junior, Martin, or Stewart fan because you don't need to have any guts to be their fans. It takes a lot of guts to wear the flames (or rainbows, if you're old school) to the track an not get harassed by obnoxious fans who question everything about him from his sexuality to his driving ability. Through all that Jeff has maintained a standard of behavior that some drivers could only dream of. After a tumultious 2002 season which saw him get divorced, endure a 31 race losing streak, and have his personal lfe strewn in every tabloid and gossip cloumn you can think of, Gordon went about his business in a classy matter and kept his team's morale up when it was at its lowest. I've never been more proud of Jeff than last season. I know he did not win the championship, but he proved why he's the champ in my eyes.
Caroline Rieker - Pennsylvania
It took longer than I expected to condense why I'm a Jeff Gordon fan into one word, but after spending a considerable amount of time mulling it over, I think I've got it... purity. Jeff Gordon is a racecar driver in the purest sense of the word. He displays amazing finesse in the car when circumstances call for it, yet he can be a bull in a china shop if that's what the situation warrants. He drives clean against those who have earned it, and he plays rough with those who've asked for it. He is a consummate professional both on the track and off. Although some may call him a shill, part of the driver's job is to promote the sponsors, and no one performs that task better than Gordon. He interviews well. He photographs well. He represents his sponsors and his team well. He's exciting to watch and he's endearing to root for. Simply put, he's the most well-rounded driver in NASCAR, and that's before you evaluate the statitics, in which he's so far outshone the competition that he's created a league of his own. This, of course, has hurt him to a certain degree (i.e. "Gordon finishes the year a "dismal" fourth in the standings"), but, again, he has handled the pressure of his unique situation with class. In good times and bad, he places the team and its performance above all else. He is a racing purist, and because of that, I'm a Jeff Gordon fan.
Sandy Johnson - California
"I just want to thank God and all the guys in the shop for putting me here in Victory Lane." I was intrigued with such words from a NASCAR driver. It is not often one hears such selfless words of gratitude in major sports. Before 2001, my only exposure to NASCAR racing was an occasional race on TV. Like many non-race fans, a NASCAR race was watching a bunch of beer guzzling Southern boys going around in a circle. With that mind set, I was surprised to hear Jeff thank God and his crew for his victory. What a humble man, I thought. Well, I just had to follow this driver so I started watching the races every Sunday. I learned he is a former Californian. He is one of the best drivers in NASCAR, if not the best. He is a Christian and a four-time Winston Cup champion, and those were just the initial reasons I became a Jeff Gordon fan.
At the suggestion of my husband, we attended a race in April 2001 at the California Speedway in Fontana. I had no idea what awaited me, but I soon found out. The green flag dropped and the cars roared by. I felt the thunder of 43 cars under my feet. It was exhilarating! I will never forget the blur of vivid colors as they raced passed me. I had a rush like I never experienced before. I have since become an avid fan of NASCAR and of Jeff Gordon in particular. Jeff is an amazingly talented and competitive driver who races clean and uses his head. Did I mention he has one of the best looking cars on the track? Flames! They look awesome and intimidating.
I have also come to learn that Jeff is a sincere person. He is the same person on and off the track during interviews. He is caring and generous, evident by the charities in which he is involved. I have had the opportunity to meet Jeff two times as a member of his fan club. One was at Daytona 2002 and the other at Las Vegas this year. When I met him the first time, I felt as though I already knew him. Who you see on TV is who you see in person. The Las Vegas event was an example of Jeff's commitment to his fans. To make a long story short, the Las Vegas event was delayed due to rainstorms delaying qualifying. Jeff was one of the first drivers to qualify and got the pole, which meant he would have to remain at the track until all the drivers qualified. It also meant he could not attend our event. Naturally, we were disappointed, but as true fans we were ecstatic for him, even when he lost the pole position. True to his kind spirit, Jeff had his PR person call the event director and ask if we were willing to come back the next day; if so, Jeff would rearrange his calendar to meet with us. Of course, we accepted the offer, and Jeff attended the fan club event the next day and made 200 fans very happy. What a guy! That's why I'm a Jeff Gordon fan.
I'm a Jeff Gordon fan for a few reasons: Reason 1: I'm 14 years old, and in 1994 I started watching NASCAR races. Something clicked, and I've been a fan ever since. Through the good years and the bad ones, I've stuck with my guy.
Reason 2: The man. Jeff's personality is awesome. The kind of person he is is great also. He's involved in many charities and gives back to the community. Some drivers would never do that, but Jeff does.
Reason 3: He's a winner. 62 wins in a little over 300 starts. That's about a win every 5 races. And in 10 years, 4 championships. He's on a pace that in 20 years, he'll have 8 championships, 1 more than Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, who are considered the best in Nascar's history. I think it speaks for itself.
Gail Edwards - Illinois
I picked Jeff Gordon as my driver early in 1995. As an avid baseball fan, I was disgusted with the strike in 1994 and vowed to boycott baseball. To this day, I have not been back to a ballgame. My husband was watching a NASCAR race and told me pick out a driver and follow him thoughout the season. I picked out what I thought was the best looking car on the track, the Dupont car of course, and started learning everything I could about the cute young driver. The more I learned the more I liked and that hasn't changed in eight years of following Jeff Gordon and NASCAR. I never miss a race. I record all the races and keep the ones that Jeff wins, so I have a large collection of races, qualifying, and various interviews with Jeff Gordon. I am a Jeff Gordon fan because he is alway a gentleman on and off the track, is an extremely humble person, and is one of the best roll models in sports today. Even my husband, who is a Ford person has to admit that Jeff is a great driver and a good person. Although he's not too thrilled with the two stand up Jeff Gordon posters that are standing up in my living room.
Karen Allen - Indiana
I have been a NASCAR fan for many years. It was something I enjoyed watching while my husband took the boys fishing on Sunday afternoons or when he played golf. One day he asked me what I was watching and I told him that I enjoyed watching NASCAR. This surprised him. So he sat down and watched a race with me and got all excited watching Jeff Gordon. I had been a Dale Jarrett fan for sometime -- but living in Indiana, I too enjoyed watching Jeff Gordon.
My husband seemed to find excuses to be in the house on Sundays to watch the races with me. He became a Jeff Gordan -- big time! He thinks Jeff Gordon is very sincere and very competitive. He loves watching for the 24 car. And, we both think that Jeff Gordon is a good role model. He knows how to handle situations even when he is upset. I admire the fact that during his 20s he seemed so mature and level headed and how that he is in his 30s he seems to be evolving into a businessman.
Ireally don't care for other sports very much. They are ok but just not as exciting as NASCAR. We love to hunt Jeff Gordon speciality diecast and I like to read books about Jeff Gordon. Actually, being Jeff Gordon fans has become a hobby that the two of us enjoy. We have taken several long weekends to go to races. I guess the thing I like most about Jeff Gordon is the fact that by being his fans, it has added an extra dimension to our relationship. My husband enjoys talking racing with me, watching and going to races with me. Heck, we have become best friends.
Julie Cann Nicholas
I watch racing just to pull for the greatest driver there is. Jeff Gordon is not only an inspiration to me-- he has so much talent and skills that it's amazing. He is truly a level headed achiever and has accomplished more success than anyone else at his age. I have all Jeff's pictures, calendars, diecast cars, watches... if you name it, I got it. The only thing I would love to have is for Jeff to sign my DuPont hat. Jeff is a dedicated driver who excels, and is "Simply the best, better than all the rest" quote from Tina Turner's hit song. I would love to dedicate that song to Jeff. He is simply the best.
Robert Audette - Rhode Island
I'm a Jeff Gordon because he seems to be a great guy off the track and a fierce competitor on the track. I am also amazed what he can do in a racecar.
I'm 71 years old and never really followed NASCAR until Jeff Gordon arrived on the scene. I had watched open wheel racing such as sprints at local tracks and the Silver Crown series at the State Fair in Springfield, IL but knew very little about NASAR. I watched Thunder on ESPN and discovered Jeff Gordon as a teenager whipping all those seasoned drivers at Indianapolis Raceway Park and was absolutely amazed at how well he drove those midgets. When he made the jump to Busch and Winston I went with him as a TV viewer. He is the only reason that I watch Winston. It's Jeff Gordon, the St. Louis Cardinals and Rams, and the Fighting Illini-- with Jeff being at the top. When he has problems on the track my heart sinks. When he does well I am exuberant. He is truly the best driver out there and has changed NASCAR for the better since he arrived. Before him pit times were slower, car adjustments were less beneficial and on-track demeanor was more crude. Jeff's driving and demeanor as well as emphasis on constant team improvements have carried over to other teams. They had to change or he would still be winning 10 or 15 races each season. He forced others to follow his lead or be left behind. Instead of winning 4 titles he would now hold at least twice that many. He and his team have had more impact on NASCAR than any one factor since his arrival. Knowing that there is more parity now due to his influence Jeff will find ways to again make him the strongest and others will follow or get lost in his dust.
Lynda Corbin - Oregon
My husband and I were born and raised in Southern California. Our fathers and my two uncles all drove TQ midgets and full midgets in the URA and NMRA associations. My husband drove Quarter midgets, TQ's and full midgets in USRC, USAC and the CRA midget division. He ran races with the BCRA group also. His father was also a sprint car driver with CRA. We spent our youth and they early years of our marriage at race tracks from San Diego to Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other AZ tracks. We are "Open Wheelers". We first saw Jeff race at Ascot in 1989 and met him through a mutual acquaintance. We had watched many young people come through the ranks and we were impressed with this young man's driving abilities and well as his personality. After that, we moved to Northern California but my husband went back for the final Turkey night race at Ascot* in 1990. Jeff was doing very well again in USAC, I think this was the year he won the midget championship. We continued to follow his career in midgets, sprint cars and finally into Busch and Winston Cup. We compare his driving abilities to AJ Foyt; someone who could drive anything with four wheels, either a dirt track or asphalt.
We have a son just a few months older than Jeff who never had the desire to follow in his Dad's or Grandfather's footsteps. I sometimes think Jeff and also, Tony Stewart, whom we've followed forever, fill that void. Jeff is a gentleman and obviously has a sharp mind and I feel he will continue to be successful in any endeavor he attempts. Good luck Jeff. Here's to another winning season.
(Editors note: Ascot Park in Gardena, California was demolished after the 1990 season due to real estate development. Ascot was a legendary semi-banked half-mile where the California Racing Association's wingless sprinters held court.)
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Tom Wilson - California
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