Jeff Gordon makes pit stop in Hagerstown

September 11, 1997


Staff Writer

The co-pilot stepped off Jeff Gordon's private Lear jet Thursday at Washington County Regional Airport, looked at the group of a dozen people waiting on the ramp and said, "Good afternoon. Are you waiting for somebody?"

Everyone chuckled.

Just then, Gordon stepped off the plane, followed by his wife, Brooke.

Gordon, the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup points champion and current points leader, looked the same as he looks on TV in victory lane after winning a race - cool and confident.

He spent part of the flight from Charlotte, N.C., signing 200 autographs, he said. Moments later, inside Grove Worldwide's hanger, he signed photos, T-shirts, trading cards and jackets - items to be auctioned off to benefit the Waynesboro (Pa.) Cancer Society. The only things he wouldn't sign were a sweater, because no pen would write on it, and a dollar bill.


"You can't deface currency," he said politely.

Then it was off to Grove's plant in Waynesboro for a two-hour autograph-signing session. Grove uses products manufactured by DuPont, Gordon's main sponsor.

Such is the between-races life of Gordon, 26, arguably one of the most charismatic and visible race car drivers today.

Plane trips, public appearances, autographs. And autographs and autographs.

It's a lifestyle Brooke Gordon said she likes.

"Right now, it's very exciting," she said. "We enjoy traveling and meeting people. We haven't started our family yet, so it's easy to be spontaneous and pick up and take off."

No waiting at airport checkout counters or baggage carousels for the Gordons.

Gordon, like many drivers, seems to be enjoying NASCAR's relatively recent ride to major sports status in the United States.

"Who knows how long it will last," he said. "We just think about continuing the growth and having fun while it lasts."

That's the same attitude he has about this season.

"It's been a little bit of a surprise. At the start, you hope to win a couple races and have a shot at the championship. I don't feel we have a dominant race car, but our team has been together," Gordon said.

Team owner Rick Hendrick has been suffering from cancer and legal problems, and that cast the season in a different light.

"We started the season in a negative way. But the way it's turned things around has been a positive," Gordon said.

Gordon said Hendrick has "good days and bad days."

"After winning the Winston Million, I talked to him, and he said for a few hours, he didn't feel sick," Gordon said.

Gordon got his start in open wheel racing but switched to NASCAR as stock car racing's popularity began its surge.

"Yeah, I miss it," Gordon said. "I watch sprint cars and midgets on TV. I wish I could do more of it. I enjoy just watching it now."

After his local appearance, Gordon hopped back in his plane and headed for New Hampshire, site of Sunday's New Hampshire 300.

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