Last Thursday my world came skidding to a halt quicker than The Drive for Five after the incident with Keslowski at Texas Motorspeedway last fall. My driver dumped me. That’s right! Jeff Gordon is breaking up with us, his fans. He announced that this will be his last season as a driver in NASCAR. Initially I was shocked. Sure there have been murmurings for a few years about the impending R word, especially after the resurgence of some back pain a few seasons ago, but last season, man- last season seemed to have cleared all such nonsense talk out of the air. Jeff Gordon was back – Championship Contending Rainbow Warrior Jeff Gordon (though personally I never thought he went away). Sure the season ended in bitter disappointment for the 24 and his fans, but that just meant reason to look forward to the next season. Right?
Apparently, wrong! Jeff says he made the decision to make this his last season about midway through last year and that he is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. Well, just like any person dumped unexpectedly (no matter how evident the signs were) by their significant other, I say “Well bully for you, but what about me???.” I have shed tears over the announcement. I have received “condolence” texts from not just friends but from casual acquaintances! They recognize the suffering and pain I am enduring over this heartbreak.
I try to think positive. I try to visualize what it will be like without Jeff Gordon on the track and it does nothing to ease my heartache. I try to think about who I will cheer once Jeff is no longer driving. I have rolled a few drivers around in my head and as much as I like those drivers – I don’t love them. I love Jeff. I always have and I always will! I just can’t see myself in another driver’s jacket. It doesn’t feel right!
They say time heals all wounds, and I am sure that at some point there will be another driver, but I expect there will be a rebound driver or two in between that time comes, if it ever does. So fair warning to friends and family: don’t load me up on merch from the next driver I take up for ‘cause I can darn near guarantee that he ain’t a keeper. Not the kind I would take home to momma. It’s just too painful right now to think about giving my all to another driver. My relationship with Jeff lasted over 20 years, I am going to need some time to get through it.
It’s been nearly a week and talking about it still brings tears to my eyes as I think about all the experiences we will no longer share: knee slapping laughs at After the Lap, pit lane brawls leaving the villain spitting blood, pre-race invocation family shots, and most importantly Victory Lane fist pumps.
I am sure Jeff will stay in touch and still be in my life in some way, but it won’t be the same. It’s the end of a beautiful ride. Good luck, Jeff. What we had was special, and though you hate to hear it: DRIVE FOR FIVE, now is the time!
A Jeff Gordon Girl (Misty “24ever” Bethany)