Robby Gordon: Nascar's Most Underrated Driver

Valeri Kolessar@@vak7Correspondent IJuly 1, 2009

LOUDON, NH - JUNE 26:  Robby Gordon, driver of the #7 Robby Gordon Motorsport Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 26, 2009 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Once upon a time there were men whose sole passion in life was to race a stock car.


These men spent their weekdays pounding out the dents from the previous week’s competition to have their car ready in time to make the next event. They turned the wrenches, they swung the hammers. They tweaked and tuned the motor until it roared using their own two hands.


If they were lucky, they had one good friend at their side to offer whatever help they could lend. And they had to take care of their hot rods on the track, as they were often their only transportation back home after the race.


As stock car racing became popular in the U.S., so did the dependence on marketing revenue. A new day had dawned in the sport we love.


Mega teams emerged. Those with the largest bankroll could attract the largest sponsors, therefore pay the highest driver salaries, hire the brightest engineers, and stock their shops with cutting-edge technology.


Yes, it became a microcosm of American society where money equaled power. Those who have the most money to throw at any challenge are those most likely to overcome them. And we can all see where those values have landed this great nation.


A lone driver still fits the old school mold.


There are others labeled owner/driver, but only one fits the true definition. Without mega team affiliation and resources, without millions of dollars in manufacturer seed money, Robby Gordon has built his race team from the ground up. Now, in his fourth season of operations, his efforts are starting to pay off.


He is building some wicked fast hot rods in a shop that rivals those of the mega teams. Robby is the only independent one-car team firmly within the top 35 in owner points. His first win in Robby Gordon Motorsports equipment won’t be far behind.


There are drivers, and then there are racers. A driver will get behind the wheel of their preferred style of race car and do his job week in and week out. He doesn’t concern himself with setup, that’s someone else’s forte. Drivers want to win and bask in the media attention surrounding them.


But a racer will hop into anything with wheels and push it to the max. They don’t have an option in life, they live and breath for the thrill found behind the wheel. Motoring a race car is their obsession.


A racer understands how cars work and brings them to life. Count Robby among the best. Not only has he won in just about every racing series on the planet, but he does it with style. His accomplishments are well documented. Those of you unfamiliar with his profile can find it in my previous blog, On the Road With Robby Gordon.


I’ve never seen anyone control a car better than Robby. Look no further back than last week at Loudon when a wreck was happening all around him. Robby slams on his breaks, puts the No. 7 into a 180 degree spin and locks it up. Not a scratch on it. Another 15 feet and his day would have ended.


Robby Gordon symbolizes what’s missing in America today—when hard work and determination earn you their just reward.


Lasting success doesn’t come overnight. He’s had to fight hard for everything he’s earned, but Robby’s never been one to follow the path of least resistance. He can be a regular race winner in several series right now, or he can compete with the best, driving NASCAR and earn his place among racing’s elite.


Robby loves a challenge. He doesn’t appeal to everybody, fans either love him or hate him.


Along with this new generation of racing came a new generation of fans that appreciate a sport quite different than what we knew and loved. Many fans follow a driver with adoration akin to rock star devotion and want the glitter and glamour of the spotlight.


Robby doesn’t care about the spotlight, he just wants to compete.  


Hardcore race fans that still cherish all the sport was meant to be will recognize Robby Gordon as the greatest driver competing in the sport today.