Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

NASCAR Star Jeff Gordon’s Healthy Life on and off the Track

What drives this champion to win on the racetrack, as a husband and a dad, and in his quest to help kids with life-threatening conditions?
By
WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jeff Gordon got behind the wheel of his first race car when he was 5 years old, running laps on a racetrack that his stepfather built for him in their hometown of Vallejo, Calif. At age 6, the future NASCAR champion piloted his quarter-midget car -- a tiny professional racing vehicle for the 5 to 16 set -- to 35 victories, setting five track records in the process.

It was an auspicious start to an astonishing career. In the years since, Gordon has won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship four times and the Daytona 500 three times. He has racked up more than 80 NASCAR wins. Only five other drivers have placed first more times than Gordon.

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

Healing Waters

By Maggy Howe What gives us life also nurtures body and soul. Maggy Howe explains how we can tap into the restorative qualities of H2O.

Read the Healing Waters article > >

This year, the competition is as high as always, but he has a new source of inspiration: his daughter, Ella Sofia, who had her first birthday in June. Has becoming a father forced the legendary driver to shift gears? WebMD checked in with him recently to find out, and we learned that in Gordon’s drive to succeed -- both on the track and off -- he is not the only winner.

Jeff Gordon, Racing Champion

In Jeff Gordon’s 31 years of racing, nothing has prevented him from climbing into the driver’s seat on race day. Well, almost nothing.

“The only thing that’s kept me off the track was poison ivy,” says Gordon of his one miss. “My arm was so swollen I could not bend it.

“I have had bumps and bruises -- minor stuff compared to the accidents I have been in,” continues Gordon, who will be 37 in August. He then adds with a laugh, “Of course, I may have head injuries I don’t know about yet.”

This from a man who has had his share of scary crashes, the least of which would likely encourage mere mortals to trade in their car keys for a bus pass. As recently as March, a nasty crash in Las Vegas tore apart his car’s front end but left Gordon uninjured. Gordon pauses and, the laughter over, says, “I’m not fearless or foolish. But I use my fear to keep me from pushing the car too hard and going over the edge. After a bad wreck, you sometimes want to take a few weeks off, but unless your doctor tells you to, you don’t. You get right back on the track.”

Jeff Gordon Balances Racing and Fatherhood

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series features the league’s best racers. Though it’s gone through several name changes over the years -- before Sprint, it was the Nextel Cup; before that it was the Winston Cup -- its schedule has remained one of the most grueling in motorsports. Drivers compete in 36 races over a 41-week season. The races are hundreds of miles long, around oval tracks that only turn to the left. Gordon has been racing the circuit for 15 years. Naturally, Gordon, who turns 37 in August, had always thought racing kept his life in the fast lane. He didn’t realize how wrong he was until last June, when Ella Sofia was born.

Today on WebMD

Hands breaking pencil in frustration
Quiz
Dark chocolate bars
Slideshow
 
teen napping with book over face
VIDEO
concentration killers
Slideshow
 
man reading sticky notes
Quiz
worried kid
fitArticle
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Woman opening window
Slideshow
 
Woman yawning
Health Check
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
brain food
Slideshow
laughing family
Quiz