Sunday, June 21, 2015

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon makes a 'homecoming tour' stop in Northern California

   Before competing in next weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and his family made a stop on Saturday in Northern California as part of his "homecoming tour."

   Gordon, who grew up in Vallejo, Calif., was joined by his wife, Ingrid, daughter, Ella and son, Leo, and first made a stop at the Rio Linda quarter-midget track where Gordon first raced, as well as the middle school he attended in Vallejo. 

   Gordon announced at the beginning of the year this would be his last as a fulltime competitor in the Cup series. He will begin work next season as a TV analyst for NASCAR on Fox TV. 
   “When you look around Rio Linda, this is really where Jeff got his start, and this is where he came from,” said Gordon, stepfather, John Bickford. “Now, he’s like the ambassador for this sport. Becoming a professional driver is what all of these kids want to do. Every one of these kids racing quarter-midgets today wants to race in Indianapolis or the Daytona 500 someday, and he achieved that.”

   Gordon and his family toured the 61-year old facility, visited with young racers and took part in pre-race ceremonies. It marked the first time Gordon had visited the facility in more than 30 years. His daughter, Ella, is in the early stages of her own quarter-midget racing career.

   “Rio Linda was the first place that I ever drove a race car on the track, and I won a lot of races there and made a lot of friends. I don’t know what life would be like for me today if it weren’t for Rio Linda,” said Gordon.

   Gordon also paid a visit to the former Springstowne Middle School (now Vallejo Charter School) in Vallejo, which he attended. Gordon was born in Vallejo and lived in Northern California until he was 14 years old. He was welcomed by nearly 200 students and their families for a question-and-answer session in the quad of the middle school. 

   Gordon was also presented with proclamations and gifts from U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson (Calif. 5th Congressional District), Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Vice Mayor “Jess” Malgapo and Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop.