NASCAR Driver Jeff Gordon Set to Retire at End of This Year

Jeff Gordon racing his trademark #24 Chevrolet. PHOTO: WPPilot

Here’s one that might make you feel old — Jeff Gordon, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver once known as “The Kid,” is now 43-years-old, showing signs of graying hair and has announced his retirement.

Gordon, who is a native of Vallejo, California, entered the NASCAR racing world full-time in 1993. The previous year, he made his first Cup Series start in a race that coincidentally enough was Richard Petty’s final career race.

Gordon’s entrance into NASCAR helped bring the once-regional sport to an international level and paved the way for dozens of younger drivers to make the switch from open-wheeled cars to stock cars. In the years that followed his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 1994, Gordon drove his way into NASCAR record books in the number 24 Chevrolet, amassing four series championships, 92 wins and over $146 million in earnings.

Now married with two children, Gordon, who says he is a born-again Christian, has begun dedicating large portions of his time to humanitarian work, including work with the Clinton Foundation in Africa.

Earlier today, NASCAR reporter Amanda Ellis had an opportunity to sit down with Gordon and his longtime car owner, Rick Hendrick, to discuss one of the most major NASCAR news stories in roughly a decade.

“This is certainly something that I’ve been thinking about for years. Rick and I have talked about it for a number of years. You’re always trying to, when you get to this point in your career and you’ve done as much as we’ve done as a team, trying to figure out when that right time to step away is. I always said I wanted to step away on my own terms if possible, and I want to be competitive out there, and I hoped that I could do that all the way through my final year. This is the right time. I think it really became clear about halfway through last season that it was definitely going to be,” said the four-time champion.

Gordon has driven for Hendrick his entire NASCAR career, which spans a total of three separate decades – something that is nearly unheard of in modern-day NASCAR.

Speaking about no longer having Gordon behind the wheel of his #24 Chevrolet, “Mr. H.,” as Gordon has affectionately referred to him since the early days of his career, had the following to say:

“Well, it’s going to be surely awkward and strange when I walk in the garage area and I don’t see Jeff sitting in the 24 car. But at the same time, I’m looking at it like, man, that’s a year away. So I want to go out and win the championship with him this year and have the kind of season we had last year.”

Though the 43-year-old has run a total of 233,626 laps over the past twenty-two years, he says that he has no plans of taking it easy in retirement. Instead, the driver with 761 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts to his name said that he really isn’t retiring at all, but simply changing jobs.

“Retirement means you go off to a beach somewhere and sit in a rocking chair on the front porch and drink your coffee and pet your dog. That’s not me. I plan on working. I’m going to be working ‑‑ I’m actually going to have to get a real job now. So when I think of retirement, I just don’t think that that’s what I’m doing.”

Gordon says that he wants “to leave myself open,” adding, that someday he may even want to get back into a racecar. “It doesn’t have to be a Cup car. It could be an [XFINITY] car. It could be a truck. It could be a prototype for Le Mans or the Rolex. It might not be any of those things. Heck, I was just out in the desert driving buggies and I maybe want to do the Baja 1000. I don’t plan on doing any racing, but I know I’m not going to be retiring because I have a lot on my plate already that we have plans for, and we’ll be talking about in the future. And I’m excited about that. I really am.”

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