Each week, Jeff Gordon hits the track knowing he's risking his life for a career he enjoys. His wife Ingrid stands by his decision to take that risk and achieve victory.
Gordon now has two children that watch him go fast every Sunday.
However, when next Sunday comes around, his daughter Ella will be riding with him in more than just spirit.
When NASCAR makes the trip to the Atlanta Motor Speedway in one week, Gordon will have Ella's influence on his car. With the help of renowned NASCAR artist Sam Bass, who designed every paint scheme Gordon has driven since 1992, Gordon will drive a car created by his 3-year-old daughter.
The car will help promote awareness for the newly-renamed Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation, which focuses on pediatric cancer and the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital.
For Bass, the opportunity was a special one because it allowed Ella to show her own creativity.
"Ella was raring to go and spent about an hour and a half just making marks, squiggles and creating," Bass said.
One unique aspect of the car is the hand prints on the sides. Bass said Ella is not old enough to write her own name, but what she did was put her hand in watercolor paint and put hand prints on the paper.
In a way, it can be considered Ella's "signature."
Bass then took Ella's idea, and put his own refinements to make it one of the most unique paint schemes to be run this season.
Katie Harty, a representative for the foundation, says the Ella-inspired paint scheme represents a new direction for the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation.
"Over the years we have really narrowed our mission to pediatric cancer [research, patient support and treatment programs] along with supporting the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital and we felt it was time that our name focused on what we were focused on and that is children," Harty said.
In 2009, the foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary, and for most of those years Gordon and die-cast manufacturer Motorsports Authentics made collectible cars to raise funding for the foundation.
Famous characters such as Elmo and Speed Racer have been on the cars, but not once has a foundation car gone on the race track.
The 2010 edition will be the first time the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation will be in race competition.
Bass says the car looks like Ella had come up and started drawing on it, which is the exact look they were going for.
"That is how it was supposed to come off, that a child did this car and it comes across very well and I'm quite proud of that," Bass said.
Bass is proud of the car especially since he wasn't the primary designer. He later joked that if Gordon wins the race in the car, he was going to do some hiring at his gallery.
"She [Ella] will have a job here waiting for her," he said.
The DuPont/Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation Ella-designed car will take the green flag next Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!