Where Have All the Jeff Gordon Fans Gone?
With their favorite driver’s farewell tour complete and the 2016 season now underway, just where have all those @JeffGordonWeb fans gone? Have they moved on to other drivers or are they stuck in continual mourning for the man they idolized?
For many Gordon fans, letting go has proven to be an almost impossible task. And while each fan has their own individual struggles, there seem to be three common themes among the Gordon faithful.
The first is the length of time they have been following the now retired driver of the No. 24. Related to that is also a generational factor of following in the footsteps of their parents’ Gordon fandom.
“I’ve been a Hendrick Motorsport fan since I was a little girl,” Julie Huchingson said. “When Jeff came into the NASCAR scene, I chose him as my driver and continued following him to his last race.”
“I have been pulling for Jeff ever since I could remember,” Steven Alderson said. “I was so young at the time watching the races with my parents. I remember my parents always talking about him and that was another reason I wanted to follow him.
“I remember having a bicycle when I was 4 years old painted just like his car. I used to pretend I was him riding up and down the driveway. And like him, I sure did win a lot of races!”
A second strong attachment is that famous Rainbow Warrior paint scheme. In fact, Gordon fans remember that scheme with a fondness that matches no other car designs in the garage currently or even those on the new No. 24 race car.
“What made me choose Jeff Gordon to follow was that I always liked his paint schemes,” Brent Wright said. “Rainbow Warrior is my favorite scheme, along with his car with flames.”
In fact, many fans have so much invested in their Gordon die-casts over the years, that is another more practical reason they are having trouble saying farewell to their driver.
“I have a lot of money invested in my room with all the different die casts and his paint schemes,” Jan Foster said. “That’s 23 years of memorabilia. I don’t know if I can ever do that again with another driver.”
Sheer emotional attachment has also crippled many to the point where they are not only unable to choose a new driver, but has also impacted their following of the 2016 NASCAR racing season.
“I have not chosen another driver to follow,” Linda Caracciola said. “For now, I’m just a fan of the sport though I have to admit it’s different this year.
“Normally I’m counting down to the Daytona 500 and by now I’m usually chomping at the bit to get back to racing but knowing Jeff won’t be piloting the 24, the level of enthusiasm for me isn’t what it once was.”
Although there are many Gordon fans who have remained committed to their driver in spite of his retirement, there are others who have been able move on, choosing new drivers for whom to cheer.
Not surprising, many of these fans have stayed within the Hendrick Motorsports fold, transferring their loyalty to not only the new driver of the No. 24, who just so happens to be the pole sitter for the Daytona 500, but also Gordon’s teammates.
“I kind of knew Chase Elliott was going to be my new favorite driver,” Brent Wright said. “I went with Chase because I have so much respect for Jeff, the entire 24 team and Hendrick Motorsports.
“Chase is a talented young driver who has a chance to have a long career like Jeff did. I think Chase and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) will work really well together once they get that chemistry going.”
“I didn’t think I would pick another driver but I did,” Anne Lowery said. “I told Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the NASCAR banquet that I picked him as my new driver. He said awesome, that is great to hear, and then my husband and I got our picture with him.”
Another popular new driver pick is Kyle Larson, who embodies many of the same characteristics of their idol.
“I like Kyle Larson very much,” Huchingson said. “I’ve been keeping my eye on him, watching him come up through the ranks from his dirt Sprint Car days. Kyle is very similar to Jeff, not just the way he has come up through the NASCAR scene but his driving style too. It doesn’t hurt that Jeff is probably Kyle’s biggest fan.”
“I too feel like Kyle Larson has the potential to be a future star,” Alderson said. “He is going to be around a long time and I can follow him throughout his career.”
Whether or not they have chosen a new driver, Gordon fans are still in the mix and making themselves heard. In fact, every single one of them has pledged to continue to be his fan, particularly as he transitions to the broadcasting booth.
“I think Jeff being in the broadcast booth is cool,” Wright said. “It will be interesting to see him adapt and call races going forward for the rest of his career.”
“He will do an excellent job,” Jan Foster said. “And I hope that I might still run into him at a track somewhere this race season.”
So, where oh where have all those Gordon fans gone? Well, actually nowhere, as to a fan, they have pledged their allegiance to him whether on and off the track.
“I’m a Gordon forever fan,” Foster said.
“And I too will be a JG fan forever as well,” Lowery said. “Jeff will always be involved in NASCAR and I will always be his number one fan.”
EMAIL MARY JO AT email@example.com
FOLLOW MARY JO ON TWITTER: @maryjobuchanan
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, it’s owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.