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 is the final page of responses.
Trish Phillips - Ohio
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I've been a racing fan since I was a kid. My father drove a race car at Edgewater Speedway and took me to the track every week. By the time he sold the car, I was hooked on racing, so I started paying attention to NASCAR.
I first really noticed Jeff in 1994. I was supposed to go to the inaugural Brickyard but was pregnant with my 2nd child & was due the same week of the race. Well, Jeff won that inaugural race & my daughter was born on his birthday, August 4th. I was destined to be a Gordon fan! I took a job transfer from Cincinnati to Orlando in early 1998 went to the first night race at DIS, the Pepsi 400. It was supposed to be run in July but we had such terrible wild fires that year, so they moved the race to October. It was the first Winston Cup race I attended and who won? Jeff Gordon, of course! I attended all the Pepsi 400 races while living in Orlando, as well as the 2001 Daytona 500 and all the Bud Shootouts.
I have what my friends and family affectionately call "The Shrine" to Jeff, which includes diecasts as well as lots of other items. I'm not one of those fair weathered fans that jumps to another driver at the first sign of trouble. I'm a Gordon fan no matter what, through thick and thin, championship seasons or not. When new people I meet find out I'm a Gordon fan, they often remark something about me only liking him because he's cute or that I jumped on the "Gordon bandwagon" when he started winning everything. They quickly change their tune when they find out I've been a fan since 1994. Unfortunately I was laid off in November of last year and had to move back to Cincinnati due to finances. I do have plans to drive to Orlando at the end of June to meet some friends for the Pepsi 400. I couldn't stand it if I couldn't attend at least one race a year. I do miss living near a Cup track. Maybe someday the Kentucky Speedway will get a Cup race.
I'm not what most would call a Jeff Gordon fan. I have a huge Tony Stewart collection and only a few Jeff Gordon items, probably less than a few other drivers. However, I do consider myself a Jeff Gordon fan, but only due to the reason that I'm not one of those Jeff Gordon haters anymore. For years I hated Jeff Gordon, and hate does seem like a strong word but it's accurate. I felt sick to my stomach when he would win, which he did often, and cringed when I heard his voice. Then I grew up, opened my eyes and ears, and learned something. My lesson started when I started talking to this great lady I met online. She is a huge NASCAR fan, like myself. But she just so happened to be aflicted by a disease that may eventually need to be cured or treated with a bone marrow transplant. As she explained her situation to me, I realized how ignorant I was about blood and marrow and the diseases that effect them. So, I decided to learn something so I could at the very least have a somewhat intelligent conversation with this lady about these afflictions. I hit the library and learned about blood. Until then I had no clue that all of your blood is created in your marrow, I learned about the bone marrow transplant process, and also learned that its most likely possible that every single person on the planet that needs a bone marrow transplant could be matched up with a donor, if the donors were there. Donating blood is easy, and they give you juice and cookies afterwards. Giving a sample of blood to be tested and registerred on the bone marrow donors list costs money and most people aren't going to pay $60-90 to donate something. 1-800-MARROW is set up to offset the cost that a potential donor would have to pay to donate bone marrow. I either never knew that, or chose to never listen when it was mentioned. There are lots of people in the world that need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive. Learning how much Jeff Gordon does for 1-800-MARROW and other groups, is why I'm a Jeff Gordon fan. Its true that he's a great driver, but in my mind, his greatest attribute is that he's a great person with his heart and his head in the right place. Given the opportunity, I would apologize to Jeff for my past ignorance and thank him for doing everything he does. I still pull for Tony Stewart to win every weekend, but am as proud as any Gordon fan when Jeff does well.
I became a Jeff Gordon fan quite by accident, a fatal accident that took the life of my brother, Jeff, by a drunk driver. While going through his belongings I found several Jeff Gordon diecast cars and some JG cards. My older brother was a NASCAR fan also and but not a Jeff Gordon fan at all. He stated that now his Sunday's would be quieter without having to hear about JG. Being the irritater of the family, I thought, here was my chance. I began studying Gordon and learming NASCAR just to irritate my brother and soon I was hooked. A Jeff Gordon fan to the hilt, I have the diecasts left by my brother and have purchased several of my own and have nearly every JG card that has been produced, all this since November 1997. I miss my brother Jeff greatly but enjoy watching Jeff Gordon every week and call the older sibling just to irritate him. We are a family of NASCAR fans and even got out mother hooked. LIfe has been tough since that fatal accident, but Jeff Gordon puts a smile in the pains of life.
Almost 11 years ago, I was walking in the grocery store with my mom. At the time, I was about 7 and I had no clue what Nascar was, not to mention who in the world Jeff Gordon was. My mom wanted to pick up a magazine, so we went over to the books/magazine section. We started to walk right past the racing magazines, without giving them much thought, but I looked over, and this young guy with a pretty uniform and car was staring back at me. I asked my mom who he was, and she said, It says Jeff Gordon, but I dont know who he is. I didnt either, but I knew i was hooked. I convinced my mom and dad I loved him, so we started watching the races. Since that day I've been cheering for the guy in the 24 car. Even though I first loved the car, I've grown to love the man for who he is and what he does for so many people. No matter how many more races or championships he wins, even if its very few or none at all, I'll always be proud to call myself a Jeff Gordon fan
Elaine Foote - New York
I have been a fan of Jeff Gordon for several years. My family enjoys watching NASCAR races and everyone cheers for a different racer. I chose Jeff Gordon because he is around my children's age and he seems like such a nice, humble, sincere young man. He is an excellent driver but he doesn't take it for granted. I'm proud that he "plays fair" and doesn't intentionally do mean things to other drivers. We need more drivers like Jeff Gordon!
Dorothy Kelly - California
I've been a JG fan since he won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994. That was the first Nascar race I'd ever seen and I was hooked from that day. We saw Jeff win at California Speedway in 1997 and 1999. As much as I root for him to do well on the track, I'm equally as happy to read about all the great things he does off the track such as giving money to charity and visiting with sick children. Anyone can drive a race car around a Nascar track, but it takes a special person to brighten the life of a child. And Jeff Gordon is that special person.
Derek Franklin - Illinois
I am a Jeff Gordon fan for many reasons. For starters, because he is a Yankee winning in a Redneck sport. Sorry for the ethnic slurs, but its the truth. Second, his driving style, he is hardly ever a conservative racer, which I like. He never gives up until the checkered flag flies. I also admire his endurance, the biggest reason is because no matter his personal problems, he always gives it 120% on raceday, and thats very admirable. Another reason, of course, is because he has the coolest looking car on the race track week in and week out. I actually met Jeff at a race, and he is one of the most down to earth guys you will ever meet. He also isn't afraid to bump people out of the way if they are slower than him. I own probably more than a thousand dollars worth of his merchandise and i will continue to buy more because I am and forever will be a diehard Gordon fan.
Arlene Gerard - Iowa
My family watched clips of NASCAR on the Wide World of Sports and listened to the races on the radio. The first televised NASCAR race became a family dinner at my parents. A tradition we continue today in our own homes as the family grew. My two sisters and I would back Darrell Waltrip over the years and attending the races live wasn't quite the same anymore when my oldest sister died from breast cancer. I saw Jeff Gordon race in the Busch Series and I said, "If that kid ever gets to NASCAR, I am choosing him because he can drive the wheels off that car." Next thing I know he is at Hendricks Motorsports and my daughter Amy picked Jeff also as her driver.
Amy was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in 1991 and had radiation treatments. We saved our money for a trip and took her to her first live race in 1995 at MIS. With no connections we got to see Bobby Labonte who ended up winning the race that day. Amy was slightly bent out of shape because Jeff didn't win and came in 2nd. Dale Earnhardt wrecked that day and was visibly limping to the ambulance when people around us in the bleachers started cheering. Why on earth would someone cheer for a wreck was Amy's look to me. The next fall after being in remission for 4 1/2 years Amy was rediagnosed and had chemotherapy for a year. Knowing that Ray's son was a Leukemia survivor and Rick being diagnosed with it made us even more enthusiastic Rainbow Warrior fans. At the hospital over the years we met many other families with a sick child or family member. Some of the families didn't get to take them home healthy and have them to hug anymore, only memories. Trusting in God was sometimes the only way to make it through the day or waiting for test results, biopsies and having procedures done. I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to help others, with Racing for the Cure, the 800 Bone Marrow Program, Jeff Gordon Foundation, Make-A-Wish and other requests. One of my favorite all time memories of Jeff's career will always be the Hendrick 1-2-3 finish when Jeff won and talked to Rick on the phone after he won the race, Terry Labonte second and Ricky Craven third.
My daughter went on to graduate with her Master's in Social Work. She is working in a health related field now and we hope to attend another race. I appreciate the time and effort put forth by many of the drivers and their families to promote serious health related causes and for scheduling time with people with serious illnesses. NASCAR has grown over the years to be a nation wide sport with the drivers being more visible in the public. Hardly anyone knew who Cale was in the 70's here in the midwest. Now everyone has heard of Jeff and doesn't know what the races were like before restrictor plate racing. This is how I became a Jeff Gordon fan.
Linda Corder - Ohio
When Jeff was around 13, I watched him race his sprint car down at Atomic Speedway (now called KC Raceway) in Massieville, Ohio. He was such a little fellow against those big guys but he got the job done. In 1993, I got back into watching Winston Cup on a regular basis hardly missing a race. I didn't know all the guys since I hadn't watched it for a while. I decided to pick that rainbow car at the beginning of the race, not even knowing who it really was behind the wheel. One day my oldest son was up to see me and asked me who my driver was. I told him Jeff Gordon in that rainbow car. He made the comment, "well it is no wonder." I asked him what he meant and he said, "you don't know who you are rooting for?" He looked at me and said, "Remember the kid you thought was so great when we used to go to the race track, well that is him I am pretty sure." And it was. I couldn't believe I didn't put his name with that little fellow that was so good when he was so young. To me he is the greatest out there the way he handles himself and his life. He is what every parent would like their children to model themselves after. I think he has brought a lot of different fans to the sport because he was so young. He has accomplished more than most others have done and he will do more in the future. I feel I am blessed to have such a wonderful driver and person to root for on race day. I have almost all of his cars and pictures of him when he was young until now. He will always be my driver.
Ann Rackham - England
It all started in February 1993 when my husband wanted to celebrate his 40th birthday at Daytona. I knew nothing about NASCAR but was happy to do what he wanted, so this was to be our annual holiday. We live near London, England and after a bit of research and a few phone calls we were able to get tickets for the 125's and the Busch race. We left England and flew to Orlando. On the morning of the 125's we left our hotel near Disney and drove to the track. We parked the car close to the track (no charge) and had breakfast across the street from the entrance. I was struck by the sheer size of the place when we walked up the steps to our seats and I was amazed by the number of fans. My husband Michael said I would have to choose a car to follow to make it more interesting (he's a Rusty Wallace fan). So I looked at all those cars and decided to pick one that would be easy to see amongst all the other cars. One car stood out and it had a rainbow colour scheme, so that was it. I had no idea that I had picked a rookie driver by the name of Jeff Gordon who went on to win that race and that I had set my annual holiday destination for the forseeable future.
In England at that time we had no coverage of NASCAR but occasionally it was reported in motorsports magazines. Two years later Michael asked me if I could remember the name of the driver I had picked. I told him straight away and I think he was impressed that I had remembered. That year, 1995, we went back to America and flew to Los Angeles. We drove to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, then back to L.A. via Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park but no NASCAR. That changed when we decided to "Go Racing".
In 1996 we went to North Wilkesboro and I saw Jeff win again. This was the last Winston Cup race held at that track. The following week we went and saw the race at Charlotte. In 1997 we went to the February race at Rockingham where Jeff won again, then on to Richmond and Rusty won the race so these two fans from England were very happy. By this time I was really hooked on NASCAR and Jeff Gordon so persuaded Michael that we should go again that year to the fall race at Martinsville. This has always been my favourite track, you can see everything so close and in those days there were no garages so all the work on the cars was done in the pit lane. All the drivers would just stand by their cars and chat with each other. It was great fun watching them during practice. We then went on to the race at Charlotte. In 1998 we went to Dover where we saw Jeff do the broadcast for Friday Night Live. He answered a question from me, which was "who gives the names to his cars?" The answer was "the guys back at the shop." The car he was driving that weekend was called "Butthead," although he did not know why. He came second in the race. We then went on to Martinsville. This was the year of the "hot race" where Ricky Rudd had to be given oxygen after his victory Jeff came in second that day. In 1999 we again went to Dover. We then went to Martinsville where Brian Whitsell won his first race as Jeff's crew chief. We also went to Charlotte that year. We had managed to get tickets for the garage area for the Busch Race which Jeff happened to be racing in. I was so lucky to get Jeff to autograph the programme from his win the week before. Later that day I also asked Brian to sign as well. The Winston Cup race did not happen on the Sunday due to rain. While we waited in the car we chatted to the people in the car next to us. We have become friends and they have visited us here in the UK and we have stayed with them in Virginia. That year we had to change our flight home as we were due to travel on the Monday. Lots of phone calls to work and family but I was so glad that we stayed because Jeff won again. There were so few people the the officials allowed the fans onto the track after the race. We were able to stand close by and watch the photos being taken of Jeff and the team. In 2000 we went to Dover, Martinsville and Charlotte. In 2001 we went to Charlotte, Martinsville and Talladega. In 2002 we went to Martinsville.
Jeff Gordon has played a big part in my life. Because of him I have traveled through and seen so much of America that most tourists would never see. I have made new friends, and found a sport that I can enjoy even though I live thousands of miles away. Each Sunday I sit listening to the races on the internet. If I listen to the in-car I can pretend that I am at the track with my scanner hoping that Jeff is going to win again this week. I am so please that I picked that rainbow coloured car ten years ago. I know I will always be a Jeff Gordon fan. Here's looking forward to his fifth championship and many more holidays for me in the United States.
Lisa Roche - California
There is no doubt that Jeff Gordon is a great racer. He has the talent along with the championships and he always give 100% every weekend at the track. He's a great guy who helps others and it always makes me feel great when I hear stories of kids who got to meet their hero. He cares for those less fortunate than others and donates money to charities.
I became a fan of his a few years ago when I had an assignment to do for my gym class in the 7th grade. The assignment was to watch the Daytona 500 and answer a few questions on a paper my class was given. I didn't know anything about NASCAR and didn't want to do the assignment at all because I thought it would be boring sitting there in front of the TV for three or four hours. But I did do the assignment and as I started watching the race, I got interested. One of the questions on the paper was to write down a couple of drivers who I liked. I didn't know who to write down because all of these guys had great talent. I wrote Jeff Gordon down as one of the names and since then I've enjoyed watching him race.
Going to my first race last year was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. But seeing Jeff not being able to finish the race didn't make me too happy. I thought it would be great to see him win or finish in a great spot at my first race but that didn't happen. I still cheered for him as he came back out in the track for a while and I can only hope he has better luck this year as I cheer for him again at the same track. I may not like it when Jeff wrecks but I know he gave it all he had and I will be there to root for him when the next race comes on. I get teased a lot by my family because I am a fan of his but that makes me want to root for him every more. I dont care what others think. I will support him all the way and I wish him the best throughout his career. That's why I'm proud to be a Jeff Gordon fan and always will be.
Lynda Benson - Oregon
I got interested in racing in 1995 when my son started racing stock cars. His Saturday night dirt track racing got in my blood and I began watching NASCAR, Busch and Arca events. I noticed Jeff Gordon right away! I was impressed with his skills on the track, and the way he handled the media and his success. As a teacher of small children it is very important to me that the people I admire are role models. Jeff is!
Trish Phillips - Ohio
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