JG Online


'Full Circle'
Late Fall 2010

In 1992, Jeff Gordon walked in the crisp autumn air at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham to unveil a car that would rewrite the record books. Gordon was a 21-year-old NASCAR neophyte who honed his skills in sprint cars. He joined car owner Rick Hendrick to announce a partnership in which he would drive a rainbow painted car sponsored by DuPont Automotive Finishes.

The company's primary sponsorship of Gordon brought 4 NASCAR titles, 82 victories, and recognition on a global scale. Nearly 18 years to the day of that announcement, Gordon, now 39 years old with a young family, joined Hendrick for another announcement -- a new primary sponsor for 2011 and beyond. The Drive To End Hunger through the AARP Foundation will help awareness and shed light on an epidemic in America. More than 6 million Americans over the age of 60 suffer from hunger. They're often forced to make the choice between eating and filling a prescription. As a nation, we can do better than this.

By now, I'm sure you've heard at least one or two jokes about Gordon's sponsorship arrangement with AARP. But nobody's laughing when an 80-year-old veteran from the Korean War goes to bed hungry because he needs to fill a prescription and can't afford dinner. Some have criticized the AARP Foundation's sponsorship for its cost. After all, it's likely an 8-figure deal annually. But the return on investment through donations and awareness is expected to significantly exceed the expenditure.

A lot has changed from that first sponsorship announcement in Rockingham back in 1992. Regardless of the personal and professional changes over the last 18 years, there are still common threads. The driver who unveiled the paint scheme in 1992 had something to prove. There were some doubts about his ability and whether he could win in NASCAR's top division. Fast forwarding to the present day, some of those doubts have resurfaced. Only this time they're not talking about a young rookie, but rather a seasoned champion.

In 2011, Jeff Gordon drives for a new primary sponsor. The goal is to raise awareness and ease the hunger epidemic among older Americans. But the driver's goals remain the same as they did on a cool morning in Rockingham so many years ago. Show 'em that you can win races and championships. Show 'em. And some things never change.

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