Survivor


On weekdays between August 7 and August 18, voting on the the Jeff Gordon-themed version of "Survivor" was conducted. Ten contestants were "stranded" in a state-of-the-art Winston Cup raceshop in the North Carolina countryside. Though unlike their TV counterparts, these castaways are treated to catered meals and can watch any NASCAR race of their choosing on the VCR. Fax lines, cell phones, and modems are readily available allowing them to run their business empires while remaining in captivity. The 10 contestants were randomly selected among 20 possible entries- an eclectic mix of both friends and foes. For those unfamiliar with the premise, the goal was to be the final survivor.

The rules were simple. Every day the "tribal council" will vote on who should be "thrown out of the shop." The final survivor did not earn $1,000,000 (that's just slightly out of the budget) but did earn the respect and admiration of their departed peers.

The group was a mix of personalities- some have endeared themselves to Jeff Gordon fans while others are held in the same regard as a trip to pergatory. In theory the number was higher than 10 "castaways" given that 5 members make up the former pit crew. But since they only negotiate as a group, it's only fair that Barry, Mike, Kevin, Jeff, and Darren be placed in the garage as a single unit. And since they were voted out in Round Two, they departed as a group. In addition, Ed Guzzo was in the garage as well having followed Ray Evernham in through the proverbial back door.

Voting Schedule

First Castaway Voted Off -  August 7
Second Castaway Voted Off - August 8
Third Castaway Voted Off - August 9
Fourth Castaway Voted Off - August 10
Fifth Castaway Voted Off - August 11
Sixth Castaway Voted Off - August 14
Seventh Castaway Voted Off - August 15
Eighth Castaway Voted Off - August 16
Final Castaway Voted Off - August 17

The Survivor
Rick Hendrick

The Departed

Jack Roush
The Former Pit Crew
Rusty Wallace
Dale Earnhardt
Eddie Gossage
Fred Wagenhals
Hallie Eisenberg
Ray Evernham
Robbie Loomis


Voting Recap

Rick Hendrick
The Survivor

In the first few rounds there was a clear choice that the tribal council voted on for expulsion. Jack Roush in the first round received nearly 75% of the total votes cast in that round. The former pit crew received 60% of the vote in the second round while Rusty Wallace received a little over 50% of the vote in round three. However, that would be the final overwhelming choice for expulsion. In round four, Dale Earnhardt edged Hallie Eisenberg by a mere 19 votes. Eisenberg staved off elimination in round four and was able to hang around for awhile longer.
Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Eddie Gossage was banished in round five as Action Performance CEO Fred Wagenhals and Eisenberg were nearly voted out. Wagenhals' luck ran out in the next round as he edged Eisenberg in the voting for expulsion. Hallie's luck finally ran out in round seven as the remaining three had deep ties to Jeff Gordon. His former crew chief and mentor, his current crew chief, and his longtime car owner battled for a shot at the finals.
In round eight, the tribal council voted Ray Evernham out by a scant 8 votes over Robbie Loomis. Almost lost in the shuffle was the performance of Rick Hendrick. Up until the final round, he had received less than 4% of the vote in every round. The final round voting was actually closer than expected as Loomis was voted out by a relatively narrow 59-41 percentage.

In the end the final survivor was Rick Hendrick, a survivor in more ways than one. Beating out 9 other contestants in a fictional game is easy. In early 1997, Hendrick revealed he had chronic myelogenous leukemia, a form of bone-marrow cancer that kills half of those afflicted within four to six years of diagnosis. Over the next two years Hendrick battled the disease. Some days were good, some days were bad, but in the end he had battled his toughest foe into submission. In December 1999, the word "remission" sounded even better than "Winston Cup championship."

The Survivor voting was a crapshoot. Some might have expected Ray Evernham to win while others might have forseen Robbie Loomis being the lone survivor. But in the end, the Survivor in the fictional game was the same as the Survivor in the game of life-- Rick Hendrick.


Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick


Survivor Contestants Bio

 

Ray Evernham

Was Jeff Gordon's crew chief for nine years. Guided Gordon to 3 Busch series wins and 47 Winston Cup triumphs, including three Winston Cup titles. Starting in 1992 Evernham built the team that would eventually capture three Winston Cup titles in a four year period, including a record-tying 13 wins in 1998. Left as crew chief in September 1999 to start his own racing organization. Gordon asked him to sell his ownership in the now defunct Gordon-Evernham Motorsports operation after the 1999 season. In the "castaways garage," Evernham is joined by Ed Guzzo, a longtime friend and business associate. Should Evernham be voted out, Guzzo will automatically follow along.

Fred Wagenhals

Fred is CEO of Action Performance Co., the Phoenix-based collectibles manufacturer. In 1999, Action and its Goracing subsidiary took over the merchandising and membership aspects of the Jeff Gordon National Fan Club. The results have been mixed at best. However, it's better than the company's recent results on Wall Street.

Robbie Loomis

Gordon's current crew chief led him to two victories thus far in the 2000 season. He faced huge expectations after taking over the position formerly held by Ray Evernham. After a slow start to the 2000 season, criticism from the fans grew louder and skepticism abounded. However, the team has rebounded and remains in the top 10 in series points.

The Former Pit Crew

Barry Muse, Mike Trower, Kevin Gilman, Darren Jolly, and Jeff Knight serviced Gordon's Chevrolet during pit stops. Toward the end of the 1999 season they signed with Robert Yates Racing to perform pit stops for Dale Jarrett. The five ex-patriates never gave HMS the opportunity to match or increase their offers from Yates Racing. The former pit crew will be voted on as a single group.

Eddie Gossage

Gossage is the general manager of Texas Motor Speedway and represents the track that remains a mystery to Gordon. He has never completed a race at Texas without either wrecking or spinning out. In 1999 Gordon suffered bruised ribs in a hard crash in turn four after cutting a tire. Though he has often had a strong car at Texas, problems have always arisen.

 

Jack Roush

Rival car owner determined to win a Winston Cup title before anyone can bring an anti-trust suit against him. Has an engineering background but knows little about tires (see New Hampshire 1998 for further evidence). Accused Gordon of cheating in 1998. After NASCAR tests exonerated the DuPont team, Roush never offered an apology.

Dale Earnhardt

When Gordon was making his charge to the top of Winston Cup racing, it was Dale Earnhardt who he had to displace. And it was Earnhardt who first brought up the "Wonderboy" moniker. After Gordon held on to win the 1995 title, Earnhardt toasted him with a champagne glass of milk at the banquet in New York. Gordon credits Earnhardt for teaching him the elements of the draft- as well as some of the finer points of business off the track.

Rusty Wallace

While many consider Earnhardt to be Gordon's biggest on-track rival, it is Wallace with whom Gordon has often clashed. After nudging Wallace aside to win at Bristol in 1997, Wallace got revenge the following year at Richmond. A year later at New Hampshire, it was Gordon who put Wallace into the spin cycle and a visit with the wall of voodoo.

Hallie Eisenberg

Otherwise known as "the little girl in the Pepsi commercial." While Gordon was comfortably leading a Busch race, the upstart team of Hallie and her grandfather (on a bicycle) came on strong to pass the Pepsi Chevrolet and win the race. The only opponent who Gordon has never beaten on the track.

Rick Hendrick

Jeff Gordon's car owner since the start of his Winston Cup career. Took a chance with Gordon and an unproven crew chief named Ray Evernham in 1992. Three Winston Cup titles later proved that it was a chance well worth taking. The mastermind behind the influx of multi-car teams in NASCAR. Signed Gordon to a long term deal in October 1999 which included selling equity in the 24 team to the driver. His race teams won the Winston Cup title four seasons in a row (1995-1998).



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