Jeff Gordon Latest NASCAR Driver To Dabble in Race Tracks

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IApril 11, 2009

Just when Jeff Gordon's plate appears completely full, with a race team back on track, a first-ever win in Texas, an active family life, and a busy foundation helping sick children, it appears that Gordon is ready to take on yet another challenge.

The Buffalo News reports that Gordon is participating in a consortium to build a race track in Fort Erie, Ontario. The track would be located four miles from the border and will cost over $172 million.

John Bickford, Gordon's stepfather and vice president and general manager of Jeff Gordon, Inc., confirmed that there was a letter of agreement with the track developers and JGI to move forward on the track development.

Bickford advised, however, that no formal letter of agreement has been signed.

The endeavor will include a one-mile oval track, a 2.6-mile road course, amphitheatre, camping facilities, and of course luxury suites. The plan is to dub the track a "Jeff Gordon Speedway" to capitalize on the four-time champion's involvement.

Gordon will also participate in the profits by providing the Jeff Gordon Driving Experience, an opportunity for fans to ride along or drive DuPont Chevrolet stock cars. This experience is already available at several other NASCAR-sanctioned race tracks.

The project is being backed by a Kuwaiti financial company, Bayt Al Mal Investments.  The track's opening date is projected for 2011.

With this newest endeavor, Gordon will join the likes of fellow driver and team owner Tony Stewart and mentor and former crew chief Ray Evernham. 

Stewart owns Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. This dirt track hosts USAC National Sprint cars and UMP Dirt Car Modifieds. This weekend was to be the track's opening, but Friday's events were washed out due to weather. 

Under Stewart's watchful eyes, cars will take the track for the first time at Eldora this evening in the Coca-Cola Spring Classic.

Eldora Speedway is also known for the signature "Prelude to the Dream" event, where NASCAR drivers come back to their roots of dirt track racing to raise money for various children's charities.

Gordon will also follow in the footsteps of former crew chief and team owner Evernham. After selling out of Evernham-Gillett, the team that he had formed after going out on his own, Evernham decided that he too needed a new challenge in his life.

Evernham completed the acquisition of East Lincoln Speedway in Stanley, NC, in December 2008. The track had its grand opening for this year's racing season on Apr. 4, packing the stands with a record crowd.

East Lincoln Speedway is a 3/8-mile dirt track, racing various divisions from Micro-sprints to Late Model Modified Sportsman. Under Evernham's leadership, this race season marks the 19th consecutive year of racing at East Lincoln Speedway.

Stewart, Evernham, and now Gordon, are just a few of the "big names" in NASCAR racing who are involved with race tracks. Other drivers, such as Kenny Schrader, are also active in track ownership and interest.

Gordon's latest announcement is just another example of the diversification of his interests and burgeoning business empire. 

And as with mentor and friend Evernham, it may just give Gordon that interest to fall back on when he finally does decide to hang up his racing helmet.

Sources: jayski.com and The Buffalo News.

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