Robby Gordon Charts Own Course

by Monte Dutton

When Robby Gordon was asked if he had any advice to give Tony Stewart about being both a driver and owner, Gordon said, “Be careful what you wish by Monte Dutton for. You might just get it.”

Gordon, however, was kidding. “You know, it’s a chore to be the driver and the owner,” he says. “At the same time, provided you hire the right people and they do their job, and follow through with it and take ownership, it’s not that big a deal. It’s just a case where you have to get involved in certain situations.”

It sometimes seems as if Robby Gordon has an unwieldy nickname because his name is so often followed by parentheses: “(no relation to Jeff).” But the other Gordon, who has won three times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Series himself, is one of America’s more versatile and talented drivers.

Like the “other” Gordon, Robby was born in California. Like Tony Stewart, he has twice competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Unlike Jeff Gordon and Stewart, Robby has won the Baja 1000 three times, and he has competed in recent years in the Dakar Rally. He has won in Indy cars, stock cars and off-road vehicles. Desert racing also provided a foundation in the careers of Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears.

Unlike Johnson and Mears, though, Gordon still competes in off-road racing’s major events.

In 2005, Gordon became the first American to win a stage in the Dakar Rally, and in 1999, he would’ve won the Indy 500 had his car had enough fuel to complete the final lap.

In NASCAR, Robby Gordon follows a fiercely independent path, with more in common with the sport’s pioneers than most of his modern-day colleagues. No driver-owner has won the championship of NASCAR’s premier series since the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992, and no representative of a single-car team has won it all since the late Dale Earnhardt in 1994.

As thoroughly modern as Gordon is, an argument can be made that he shares much with the fierce individualists who built NASCAR, men like Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, Dave Marcis and Junie Donlavey, who owned the first Cup car Gordon ever drove.

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week (nascar.rbma. com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at nascar_ (c) 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.

While competing full time on the Sprint Cup circuit, driver/owner Robby Gordon also has raced in the Dakar Rally and Baja 1000. (Getty Images photo)