The list of past speakers at Hickory Sportsman Club meetings is a decorated one.
Monday evening in the opening of the club’s 33rd season, Jeff Gordon was added to the list that includes Bobby Knight, Pete Rose, and Brett Favre, among others. Conover native and former NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett also was in attendance for the press conference and dinner at Rock Barn Country Club.
Gordon was introduced by Jim Correll of the sportsman’s club, and fielded questions from local media and attendees of the event, opening up on his connection with both Hickory and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“When I came to North Carolina to pursue NASCAR, I landed in the Charlotte airport and drove by the Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Gordon said. “I didn’t know a lot about NASCAR, didn’t grow up racing stock cars; but when I landed in Charlotte and drove past that speedway and got a chance to drive a car at Rockingham (Speedway), I was sold.”
Gordon said he raced the 1991 and 1992 seasons in Hickory for the Busch Grand National Series, calling the speedway “a tough little short track.”
“When you don’t come from driving late models and stock cars and full-fendered cars, and you come to a little bullring like Hickory (Motor Speedway), you get quite the education,” Gordon said.
Gordon also said since retiring from racing, he’s found other ways to fill the void left by working as an analyst for FOX.
“There’s an adrenaline that comes from driving and being behind the wheel of a car,” Gordon said. “If you just step away without filling that void, and don’t fill it with bits and pieces of adrenaline and something that gets your heart pumping, it probably would be a mistake. Being a part of the broadcast and live television, your heart gets pumping.”
Gordon offered his thoughts on the state of NASCAR in an ever-changing sports landscape that is more focused on social media and audience interaction than ever before.
“Where we’re at in terms of the entertainment of the sport is interesting. I...
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