Friday, August 22, 2014

Mrs. Gordon No More

I experienced my first NASCAR race when I was 12 or 13 and it is a moment that I will never forget. It must have been tough for my dad trying to bond with his three daughters as we all loved Barbie, My Little Pony and anything girly. Luckily, I agreed to check out the Loudon, New Hampshire race with him one summer and became hooked immediately. The loud noises, the crazy fans and of course, the bonding time with my Pops. We started the tradition that summer of making a weekend trip out of the race, where we we would camp out behind the track with all the other crazy NASCAR fans.

Since I had never been to a race before and wasn't familiar with any drivers, my dad handed me the program and told me to pick my favorite and he would get me a t-shirt. I skimmed through the drivers and my eyes got wide as I caught my first glimpse of the young gun that year- Jeff Gordon. I was in love. That was the t-shirt I had to have considering I was convinced that I would be Mrs. Gordon one day. Ever since that moment, I have held a special place in my heart for Jeff and took my love of NASCAR to the extreme for a girl that age.

My collection of Jeff Gordon gear grew and grew over the years from model cars to sweatshirts and t-shirts to a binder full of NASCAR trading cards. And speaking of binders, I also kept a separate binder that held all the personal information about every driver on the circuit. This was way before Google and the fact that I had spreadsheets (pre-Microsoft Excel as well) full of the drivers' names, hometowns and their wives' and children's names was pretty impressive! I was a proud member of the Jeff Gordon Fan Club and even got to meet my hero one summer at the Loudon race track. I remember being so nervous when he walked in and I think I was even shaking when we snapped the picture together. And my obsession just kept blooming. For some reason, I thought it would be cool to have a pair of white boxer shorts signed by Jeff, so I sent them to the fan club to have Jeff autograph them. When I got them back, I framed those boxer shorts and hung them proudly in my bedroom. One summer, I made my mom wait in line with me for hours in the heat at Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine, just so I could meet him again. I even made my man a gift. If I remember correctly, I framed a collage that I had spent so much time on and handed it to Jeff thinking, one day that will be atop our mantle at our home in Charlotte, North Carolina. I will always be Team Gordon and even to this day, when I watch races on TV, I get all the memorable emotions rushing back. But as far as becoming Mrs. Gordon? I'll be way happier when I become Mrs. Gudino! And at least I will have the same initials...

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