Today is the official start of the 2015 NASCAR season. When Jeff Gordon, the pole sitter, leads the drivers to the start finish line it will kick off the new season which will end with a new champion crowned in November. That’s 36 official races spread out over 10 months with a kabillion variables affecting each outcome. The start of the Daytona 500 also marks the start of Jeff Gordon’s LAST full season driving a racecar.
I’ve been a Jeff Gordon fan since his Sprint Car days. I lived for Open Wheel Wednesday’s on ESPN. To watch a man whip a car into a full turn completely sideways and come out of it straight always impressed me. The first time I watched I was pretty sure the driver was about to crash, it fascinated me when they didn’t. I still enjoy watching Sprint Cars, but my love is Stock Cars. Indy cars seem fragile to me, Trucks seem too boxy, and the Nationwide series seems like watching the kids play ball. It’s fun and entertaining, but it’s more fun when they get to the big show on Sunday.
Last year my dad and I were at Daytona for the 500 and it was quite a show, with a long rain delay in the middle of it causing it to end at night. It’s true what they say there is NOTHING like Daytona at night. I’m glad I got to experience it. I’ve always associated racing with my dad. We’ve been to Talladega (in the infield and in the stands), visited Darlington (a personal favorite of mine) and of course been to Daytona. We’ve also visited the various shops in Charlotte, and dad’s even done the Richard Petty Ride Along in Charlotte. We are planning our next trip just haven't decided which track to visit next.
To people like Golden that just “don’t get it” I say there is nothing like watching a team battle a stock car all day long and come out with a decent finish with a car that looks like it’s been in a demolition derby all day long. They never give up, each point, each position on the track is too important to the year-end standings as well as the dollar amount on their paycheck at the end of the day.
My buddy Larry has had a Jeff Gordon dedicated website since 1998. When there were only a few of us it focused on the young driver and his antics on the track. As his popularity grew the site changed and Jeff Gordonline was born. It was your one stop shop for all things Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports, and the 24 team. When Jeff’s crew chief at the time, Ray Evernham’s son was diagnosed with Leukemia the 24 team decided to join up with the National Marrow Donor Foundation to raise awareness. When Jeff’s car owner Rick Hendrick was also diagnosed with Leukemia the focus grew brighter.
As Jeff’s career expanded so did his knowledge of pediatric issues and ways he could help. He started the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation in the hopes that “there will be a day when no child will face the uncertainty of cancer, and that successful treatments will not result in negative, long-term effects”.
Larry too has taken up the pediatric cancer cause and used his Jeff Gordon website to truly make a difference while also posting NASCAR news. While Jeff is inspired by the children he meets at the track, during Make-A-Wish visits, or through hospital visits, Larry’s biggest inspiration has come from Jackson Panzarello. He was 10 years old when he passed away in 2012 after diagnosis of glioblastoma -- an aggressive brain cancer.
As Larry’s fundraiser site reports “7 children will die every weekday from cancer. 20% of children diagnosed will not survive and for the 80% that do there will be long-tern health complications” due to treatment. Since 2011 Larry alone has raised over $100,000 to fight pediatric Cancer. Amazing when you think it’s really just one man, behind a keyboard, putting in the effort to bring awareness of this cause to his readers and those readers reach into their wallet to support him. He does this through raffles, and Kick It events that he posts online via his facebook page or his website. He has a twitter account @JGInfo too but it’s the facebook page that connects him the most with his “teammates.”
Several times a year I donate to Larry’s fundraising page. This year I’ve decided to make my donation a little more … interesting. Instead of a random amount of my choice to celebrate Larry's birthday or to try and push him over a fundraising goal, I’m going to try and show that large or small the donation makes a difference at the end of the day.
As stated there are 36 official races this year, there are some non-point races peppered throughout but I’m focusing on “official” races for this because the non-point races seem to be more spontaneous as guys try things they wouldn’t normally. So for this experiment I’m going with official races.
I have decided that a win by Jeff Gordon is worth $24. If he starts on the pole I’ll add $5 to that total. Anything less than a win will dictate the amount I’ll donate that week. So if Jeff finishes say 8th in a race that he started on the pole I’ll put $13 bucks in a pot. If he were to win the same race he’d get $29 bucks. So really this experiment comes down to how Jeff does on the track.
So Jeff tighten up those belts, and LET’S GO RACING!!!!! Let's make this last season a great one and raise some money for a fantastic cause!!
Also if anyone is looking for a charity to support I’d definitely encourage you to check out Larry’s fundraising page. You won’t find a more dedicated man who is literally doing everything he can so that another parent doesn’t have to be devastated by the word cancer. The sad truth is that while Jackson’s fight is now over another 10 year old’s fight is just beginning.
Fight on!Marcy (@beaslma)