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The Great American “Kid” Moves Fast & Proud Into Retirement

 

The Great American “Kid” Moves Fast & Proud Into Retirement

 ~ Amy Lignor

Although the Daytona 500 wasn’t a grand event for the one we speak of, Gordon is still the one who will be most missed when everything is said and done.

 

Let’s face it, when football finally dies down and news begins circulating about other sports, people take a deep sigh of relief in order to focus on someone that is not part of a “Gate.”
Jeff_Gordon_wins_Phoenix_-_February_27,_2011_croppedThe one absolutely positive story out there in the land of sports has no “Gate” woven into the facts of his career. It is simply about a racer who everyone loves and who became the literal face of NASCAR for quite some time; a face that is about to give up his popular role and leave the tracks for good.

 

Thinking back, Jeff Gordon will always be the “kid” to most racing fans, no matter how many wins he’s had, trophies he’s held, or grown-up ways he’s shown. The “kid” term was even expanded upon by Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who was expounding about his victory on Late Night and said to the world (and Jay Leno) that while this “Wonder Boy” had claimed a victory, he was the first actual “man” to win the esteemed Brickyard race.

 

For anyone who has been born or has lived down south for a long time, and head to the track, you know their unspoken rules about ‘strangers’ attempting to get in on the action. Well, Gordon came from California, and as far as most racers and fans were concerned, should have picked a career in Hollywood and not trounced upon the backbone of their favorite sport.

 

But Gordon appeared…and, he won…over and over and over again. Earnhardt teased him, fans hated him, yet now everyone is more than a little depressed that Gordon will be walking away from his incredible career when the 500 comes to a close this year. Yes, it’s been twenty years, and the “kid” still looks young and up for the challenge, and he smiles more than ever now that he has won the respect, gratitude and fandom that at one time could not be had.

 

In some ways, Gordon even helped Earnhardt with his own career. Their rivalry was on all the headlines. Earnhardt tried his best to intimidate, and ended up making Gordon step up and fight harder. And when this supposed “Wonder Boy” began to fight, he never stopped racking up the wins, forcing the Earnhardt Nation to take a new look at the “kid” while they were foaming at the mouths.

 

Perhaps that was the most ironic part of Gordon’s career. This is a guy who looks like the sweetest man in the world. He has a face of innocence and kindness, yet he became the big, bad wolf of the track when he beat the unbeatable Earnhardt. And the most diehard fans became even angrier for a time because their main man was fighting to put himself into the record books of history by winning one more championship than Richard Petty – who will always be the legend of the racing world. But no matter how Earnhardt tried and no matter how his audience attempted to make Gordon leave with his tail between his legs so they could grab that historical spot, the “kid” never left.

 

Gordon may have minded the title of “the kid” a while back, but today at 43 years of age, the negative connotations of that title are gone. So why’s he retiring, exactly? Goodness knows he can still do it if he wishes. But Gordon has looked around and seen all the guys he started off with taking their bows and walking away. Or, if not, they soon will be. Apparently, that alone led him to believe that it was his time to say so long.

 

His explanation is easy and to-the-point even if fans wish he would rethink his position. Gordon believes that twenty years is a “heck of a career” and is the best time to step away and move on. Perhaps Peyton Manning should have dinner with Gordon and realize that football is even harder on the body than racing so, maybe it IS time to say so long to the gridiron.

 

Sponsors, advertisers – all the “money men” are just as upset over this as the fans. As opposed to the NFL, NASCAR is not a large grab for audiences out there. In fact, without a good challenge like, Gordon vs. Earnhardt; or having a driver that calls out to people to watch, such as Gordon, NASCAR will need extreme help in order to get millions to turn on their TV’s and watch cars go around and around on a track. This is not a smash to the sport; the sport is a good one. But the faces and names that people love need to be there in order to draw them in, and thus far no one has taken over Gordon’s particular throne.

 

And now…thanks to Kurt Busch, there is only negative news for the racing world, which will make losing Gordon even harder to bear.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

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