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Brandon Daun · Tuesday June 7, 2005
He can never reach the legendary status of a Petty. He will never be as famous as Earnhardt. However Jeff Gordon is an icon in NASCAR racing, and the accomplishments he has made have helped to raise the standards of success in Nextel Cup competition. Yet time and time again fans in this sport seem to express their displeasure of Jeff Gordon for reasons which I have yet to understand.
There are no on the fence Jeff Gordon fans. People either worship the ground he walks on or cheer triumphantly at any setbacks he encounters on race day. Such was evident at Dover last weekend, when the cheers in the grandstand were deafening when Gordon crashed early in the event. Baffled, I turned to internet forums and fellow NASCAR fans to try and determine what Gordon could have done to lose so much respect from the fans.
Jeff Gordon had a good rookie year, and was quick to find championship success. It was unheard of for a driver to find success so quickly, however Gordon accomplished both feats early in his career. This anti Gordon atmosphere was developed because Jeff Gordon was quick to find success, and managed to win a lot of races in his career. Basically, Jeff Gordon is an accomplished race car driver, which results in a loss of fans. Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, and even Carl Edwards were quick to find success on the track, and their success in their early careers have led to popularity and respect among the fans. Today, a successful rookie year is a necessity in an established career. If a driver can’t win races in their rookie year, more often times than not the team will find a driver that will. Fans will continue to boo Jeff Gordon for his continued success, however will cheer every week when any other driver runs up front all race long, then earns a top finishing spot each week.
A second reason for the anti Gordon atmosphere at NASCAR events is because of his off track personality. Gordon lost many fans when he entered a winless streak in previous seasons when he allowed his personal life to become the focal point of NASCAR racing. Once his marital problems were resolved, and the NASCAR community had a new story to gossip over, Gordon was back celebrating in Victory Lane. Gordon attempted the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field recently, and reminded all the fans why he races a car for a living. Gordon does not have the best off track personality, and his personal life and outside engagements has led to a strained relationship between NASCAR fans and himself. Jeff Gordon does act properly off the track, as he has yet to take a punch from Jimmy Spencer or to violate NASCAR’s substance abuse.
Jeff Gordon is a four time champion and has many trophies on his shelf, however seems to be unable to find success with the fans. Every fan has a driver they love to hate, and more often times than not that driver is Jeff Gordon. The reasons for this displeasure seem to be unfounded, as fans will cheer drivers on for the same reasons they would chastise Gordon. Only time will tell if fans can come to accept Jeff Gordon as an accomplished driver and an icon in this sport, but don’t expect Jeff Gordon to be winning any NASCAR popularity contests in the near future.
©2000 - 2008 Brandon Daun and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
America is unique in the way it deals with celebrity. On the “way up” your everyone’s underdog and favorite. Once at the top people and members of the media then start to have a closer look.
It’s hard to escape that extra scrutiny and an everyday event like Gordon’s divorce starts to get bigger play than warranted. In Gordon’s case you must add in he was such a success early and people disliked that and started the “Golden Boy” meme and little rich kid nonsense.
Jeff Gordon is talented, but I’d venture to say that without his Hendrick ride, he would simply be just antoher face in the crowd
I think the way he is treated by some Nascar fans is deplorable, and has nothing to do with Jeff or his personality.
I remember going to the California Speedway in 98 and hearing boos galore when Dale Earnhardt was introduced, and he was booed all the way up until his death. My point is, the great ones get booed, and it’because they are successful and win! so, keep the boos coming.
Keep booing him as he piles up the records. Jr will never be his Dad, even as bad as his fans and NASCAR wants him to be
He will never be a people person, witness the time he didn’t know who Larry the Cable Guy was!! Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are :-)
and people hate shaq because hes so dominat and knockin people around
people you need to realize that jeff didnt have a famous dad to push him to be as good as he is like little E and #8 sucks now more than ever my point is money and good cars dont make the driver jeff has worked his tail off and look where he is now he is hated for beating the best there was and he currently is the best
and larry the cable guy is not a rquired knowledge to be a driver the last time i checked
just because a well spoken educated man such as him
wants to race and is beating all the slack jawed yokles dosent mean that we should discriminate against him
we said the same thing about blacks in basketball and now the nba is way more popular because of one man MJ and jeff gordon is the Jeff gordon of nascar
Regardless of an individual’s opinion on the incident at Dover, the drivers are mostly over-anxious to “show what they can do” for the fans and the sponsors. Hell, we’re taking about careers found and lost on the results the driver gets in a series of races, not a season! Tony is anxious to prove himself again after a few lack-luster seasons and is not a damn bit shy about it. All the fans like to see a great race and if patience would prevail early in an event, we would see great finishes.
Save the beating, banging, and rubbing for the last 50 laps instead of the start!
As far as Tony is concerned and the recent conflict with Jeff, well I blame that one on the media. Tony never would have said what he said about Jeff if the media wouldn’t have started it by telling him what Jeff said. Good Grief…..Just more Drama!!
Gordon’s talent is not debatable. He is a true racing prodigy and had been racing and winning since he was five. It time to drop this immature, unfounded hate rant against a man who has done nothing wrong. Is he inaccessable? Yes, but so is Micheal Jordan and Barry Bonds. I’d say its time to put this subject to rest
I will continue to support Jeff Gordon through his racing career as the great driver and great human being that he is.
He was handed a quality ride on a sliver platter.
Jr. was handed a ride on a sliver platter as well and he can’t get the job done. All of his problems are somebody else’s fault.
Jeff Gordon has talent. How he got here doesn’t matter, because if he DIDN’T have the talent, he wouldn’t be in Cup.
That said, I still don’t like him. Mainly because I get attached to my underdogs, I’ve just always rooted for the underdog, which Jeff will never be…but also because, despite all his charitable contributions, I just don’t like his personality. My choice.
BTW, I have been known to get a bit inebriated at a race track. And I NEVER Boo anyone…my thought? Silence speaks louder that Boos….:)
I’ve seen my fair share of drunk Jeff Gordon fans at tracks, too! Even shared a “lovely beverage” with a few of them! :)
When a driver wins close to one third of the races like he did in 1996, 97 and 98, that is going to tick off the fans of the other 42 drivers. Utter domination like that made it somewhat boring, except for the most ardent Gordon supporters.
I have met Gordon a few times since he was a 16 year old sprint car driver at a midwest dirt track that no-one has heard of (before he supposedly was handed that silver spoon). From that time, up to now, he has always been cordial, friendly and accomidating. A majority of people who have had contact with Gordon would disagree about his attitude.
It all comes down to Gordon winning tons of races. With that level of attention, people are going to look at him closer and look at him with a lot more scrutiny that they will someone like Jason Leffler, who kind of blends in to the crowd.
Drivers like Jimmy Johnson, Terry Labonte, Ken Schrader, Wally Dallenbach, Ricky Craven, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek, Randy Lajoe and Brian Vickers have all driven Hendrick cars since Jeff’s first Cup race in 1992. None of them have dominated the way he has. I don’t think companies like Kelloggs, Busweiser, Ditech and Lowes would have stuck around as did, if they were giving their drivers Jeff’s “leftover junk”. If you have ever toured the Hendrick shops, you will find that all their engines and cars are built the same and the cars are given slight adjustments in the individual shops. That pretty much convinces me that it was not some magic equipment that allowed him to dominate the way he has.
Gordon is successful and people hate that, unless it is their driver.
Old time fans, those who have mourned the loss of the legendary tracks like North Wilkesboro, and Rockingham… the lost races like the Southern 500… and the perception that NASCAR is abandoning the fan base that built it.
Jeff came across as bland, politically correct and “cute”... anything but a “man’s man”. Contrast that with the blue collar image of Dale Earnhardt and it was an easy call for many of the old fans.
Jeff has changed in some ways, one of those is that he has become more arrogant and blames everyone else when he has problems. I saw him put Dale Sr. in the wall at Talledega a couple years before Sr. died. Jeff refused to accept the responsibility even though the camera showed him enter the corner below the outermost lane marking and when Sr. was in the wall that lane marking was under the middle of Gordon’s car!
He’s actually a little more likable now that he’s rough around the edges… but for many fans, it’s too late for that now.