If you've read the Good Books section before then you know I'm a huge Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and NASCAR fan. But the man who brought me to NASCAR was Jeff Gordon. I couldn't believe that these men who had come after him and only had one Winston Cup Championship between both of them and not even half of his wins had beaten him to writing a book. Now that I have read the book and looked back on it, Jeff did the right thing in waiting. He's closing the door on that ever successful young "kid" that everyone loved to hate and opening the door to the man that has become a champion. If you've even heard of NASCAR then you've heard of Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, or the late Dale Earnhardt. From a young kid in California to NASCAR's most winningest active driver; Jeff Gordon did have a story to tell.
Young Jeff Gordon first got his feet wet in racing when his stepfather, John Brickford, got him started in BMX racing in Vallejo, California. His mother however didn't like how dangerous the racing was, so the next step was a different kind of racing. This is the must amusing part of the story for me. People often say that Jeff Gordon is gay and his whole marriage to Brooke Sealy was a cover-up. John brought home two quarter-midgets on a trailer. One use to be red but was now pink from age and the other was black. Jeff makes a point to say that he drove the black one and never even sat in the pink one. They used it only for parts for the black one. Once Jeff was behind the wheel, he could prove anyone who doubted him wrong and he would just do it by beating them all on the track. Many suggested that he cheated somehow (my father still teases me about Jeff cheating anytime he finishes well to this day), but John sold one of the many cars they had. They won the next week in a whole new car while the old one barely finished. The only problem was getting racetracks and companies to let Jeff race.
That's where John played a huge part in shaping Jeff as a racer. He was his negotiator, his crew chief, his car chief, his bus driver, mentor, and dad at the end of the day. Jeff was never pushed by John and he makes that very clear. Instead John had always supported anything Jeff and his sister were involved in. John just happen to have a passion for racing when Jeff had that and talent.
Every NASCAR driver tells you that his family made huge sacrifices to let him drive, but Jeff's whole family moved from California to Indiana just so Jeff could move up in the racing world. And every kid who ever dreamed of racing in Indiana dreamed of racing an Indy car, but the moment that Jeff took his first lap with a stock car he had found his love and future. Through the chains, car owner Rick Hendrick heard about this "wonderboy" as Dale Earnhardt would later call him. Despite everyone in NASCAR telling the owner veteran he was crazy to take on such a young gun like Jeff, he did and along with him moved up was Ray Evernham. The two won three Winston Cup Championships before Ray decided he wanted to become a car owner. Many speculated that was the end of Jeff Gordon's reign, but he came back in the season of 2001 to win as a part car owner of his own car and with a brand new crew chief to replace Ray's huge shoes. Jeff has suffered beyond just losing Ray though.
One of his mentors and good friends, Dale Earnhardt, died at Daytona 500 in 2001 and then Jeff and his wife Brooke filed for divorce in 2002. Despite all the mountains he had to climb, Jeff is still the champion that I cheer for every weekend, but he's a little wiser now. "Wonderboy" has become the man in the field of cars lining up for another race!
Unlike Tony Stewart's book that was a little confusing to follow along, Jeff Gordon's, like Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s, was a great read! Jeff has one of the best senses of humor that I've ever known and he has great morals that really make him a great guy to look up to. He comes from a strong family, worked his way up from the bottom, and has come out on top. If Jeff isn't living the American dream as everyone cliché's, then I'm confused. This is truly a good guy that has finished out on top the way it should always be. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves NASCAR, Jeff Gordon, or just wants a great look at someone who has really overcame a lot to still be a decent person needs to read this book. I may have been impatient for this book to come out, since he's the last of my three favorite drivers before my little collection was complete, but this journey well worth all the waiting I had to do. The neatest part is remembering those lows where I was still his fan and then "racing back to the front" with him. Memories really added to this book and that's why it's a perfect memoir!
Title: Racing Back to the Front