A Jeff Gordon story – Sometimes the little things mean the most

By Angela Campbell On Sun, May. 12, 2013

Photo Credit: David Yeazell
Photo Credit: David Yeazell

A few times a year, I’m privileged to be able to go to a NASCAR race as part of the media. It’s a unique experience that allows me to be a small part of something that has an enormous impact on so many. What may surprise you is that it is often the little things that make it so special.

One of the highlights at Darlington Raceway was the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. I shared several conversations with one of the women who helped prepare our food. She was a long time NASCAR fan who proudly told me, “I’m a huge Dale Jr. fan but my Dad likes Kasey Kahne. Can you believe that?” The look on her face was priceless.

The young man who stood watch at the door to the media center told me how he begged a friend to switch assignments with him so that he could work the race at Darlington.

My favorite moment was shared with a photographer who has been working the NASCAR circuit for over 30 years. I was surprised to hear he drove all the way from Canada to cover the Darlington race. He was accompanied by his daughter.

He began talking about how it was in the “old days’’ when drivers like David Pearson and Richard Petty would spend hours signing autographs for their fans. “I don’t know why,” he said “but they had such an appreciation for the fans, especially the kids. You don’t see that much anymore.”

But then he related a story about his daughter. She has been his constant companion since she was old enough to travel with him. “She grew up in NASCAR,” he told me.

When his daughter was a small girl, she had a Jeff Gordon Pepsi trading card and desperately wanted it autographed. When the opportunity arose, they approached Gordon who was surrounded by fans. It was beginning to rain but they were determined to wait. When Gordon saw the girl, he politely told the rest of the crowd; “children first.”

“Gordon took the card from her, placed it face down on his pants leg, covered it with his hand so it wouldn’t get wet and told us to follow him to his hauler. He signed the card and spent several minutes talking with my daughter and me.”

The photographer’s eyes were glistening as he looked at me and said, “Signing autographs, that’s business. But this, (he pantomimed covering up the card on his leg), this was from the heart.”

You never know who you will meet at a NASCAR race. It could be a famous driver, a celebrity or just the guy next door. One thing is certain. You’ll come home with some stories to tell.

Angela Campbell (158 Posts)

A native of Charlotte, NC, Angela (Angie) was first introduced to racing by her father. An avid fan of NASCAR, she's now found a way to combine her love of racing with her passion for writing. Follow her on Twitter @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.


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  1. Ryan says:

    When I was 7 (1996) I went to a baseball game and Jeff Gordon was there.
    His wife (Brooke) at the time was with him in his press box. That day my bother and I had on our Jeff Gordon shirts on and we happen to notice him right above us.
    My father shouted at him “these 2 kids are your biggest fans,” he said thank you, and to hold on a minute. About 5 minutes later am usher came and told my brother and I that Mr. Gordon wanted to meet us and we were welcomed to hang out with him. We followed the usher up and Mr. Gordon treated us like kings. Bought us food, signed some autographs for us, and even let us watch the rest of the game with him. That is why Mr. Gordon is a class act in my book!

    • Angela Campbell says:

      Thanks for sharing your story! It was probably such a small thing for him but meant so much to you and your brother. He is indeed a class act.

  2. jj says:

    I can’t imagine anybody doing more for children in the past 20 years than Jeff. I wish I knew all the things. Of course, a person has to have a lot of money before they can give a lot away. There are several in NA$CAR who have foundations, etc. But there are also several that won’t let their fingers be pried open to give a nickel.

    Good story.

    • Angela Campbell says:

      Thanks! So many of the NASCAR drivers give back and Jeff Gordon is at the top of that list. His work with children has been phenomenal.

  3. Gina says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing it. As a long time Gordon fan, I’ve always thought he was a great person. It always makes me happy to hear people say nice things about him since in the end, it is about the person he is, not just his driving skills that have kept me being a fan.

    • Angela Campbell says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. When I heard the story, it touched my heart and I knew I had to share it.

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