Jeff Gordon's long-awaited racing memoir -- an unprecedented and thrilling look inside the life of a NASCAR champion.
It didn't matter that Jeff Gordon hailed from California -- hardly a fountain of stockcar pedigree -- or that they said he was too small to race with the big boys on the dirt tracks and ovals of his youth. It didn't matter that Dale Earnhardt called this upstart "Wonderboy" -- no one raced the legendary Earnhardt harder, and no two drivers had more respect for each other. And it didn't matter that the racing world said Gordon was finished with the breakup of the crew on the #24 car and the departure of Ray Evernham, his crew chief, in 1999 -- he came back two seasons later to win a record-equaling fourth Winston Cup, this time with Robbie Loomis as crew chief. In the end, all that matters is that Jeff Gordon is the greatest living NASCAR champion, and it only remains to be seen just how many championships he can win.
But what's it really like to climb into a stockcar every weekend and challenge for a championship? Offering a never-before-seen entry into the thrilling world of NASCAR racing, Jeff Gordon takes us into the cockpit of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet car; right into the garages where his cars are made; and inside the lives and efforts of his extraordinary team, the Rainbow Warriors. Just how does his car get built, tested, and driven, and how do these personalities mesh into a championship team? Along the way we find out what he thinks of life as both a NASCAR champion and a never-left-alone celebrity, where he came from and to whom he owes all his successes, and above all, what it takes to be a champion in one of the most dangerous and thrilling sports of all.
Jeff Gordon: Racing Back to the Front -- My Memoir is a pit pass all its own, giving passionate NASCAR fans unique access into the life and career of one of the most storied champions in the sport.
In a curiously plodding memoir, NASCAR superstar Gordon (known for many years as"Wonderboy" thanks to his youth and Dale Earnheardt's sharp tongue) reveals the hard work it takes to be a four-time Winston Cup champion. He also addresses what it's like to hear crowds cheer when his car blows an oil fitting, deal with allegations--some deeply crude--about his sexual orientation, and be hero to some folks and villain to others. Gordon attributes the resentment out there to his youthful success, his testy relationship with NASCAR demi-god Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (though he says they had great respect for each other) and his failure to embody the sport's good ol' boy image (Gordon hales from California, prefers scuba diving to hunting, and likes to hang out in New York). But diehard Earnhardt fans may be even more offended by Gordon's business sense: as revealed here, Gordon approaches NASCAR from the standpoint of an executive in a corporate entertainment franchise. He presides over a vast assemblage of engineers, mechanics, pit crews, PR functionaries and"affiliated companies," and his book is preoccupied with such managerial issues as work schedules, sponsor relations ("I've done everything in my power to make sure they're happy with their investment"), human resources ("To attract and retain the best people, we've got to be conscious of those personal needs"), business philosophy ("continuous, incremental improvement"), and motivational lectures on the importance of teamwork. The perfunctory race narratives bear out these homilies; occasionally Gordon wins through adroit driving, but races are usually decided by engineering, mechanical failure, pit-stop mishaps, running out of gas, and other factors outside the driver's control. Gordon's memoir is a corrective to NASCAR's cult of the celebrity driver, but the book's colorless MBA-speak makes racing seem about as interesting as watching cars drive around in a circle.