“She knew something was up…”
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In this excerpt from the forthcoming biography, Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny, scheduled to release October 18th, author Joe Garner reveals that Jeff’s adolescence was all too normal, and at times, far from squeaky clean.

“By 1982, we accomplished all we set out to,” Jeff says, “and we weren’t as challenged as you need to be to stay motivated.” But they kept racing—and winning—anyway. “We did honestly think he was burned out,” Carol recalls.
“He kind of got stale, or bored. We cut back to twenty-five or so weekends of quarter-midget racing,” says John. They bought a boat for Jeff to practice waterskiing. He went to windsurfing school. They moved to a new house.
In junior high, he discovered break dancing and fell in love with it. There was still bike riding, skateboarding, and playing pickup basketball at the park. He kept busy, but the absence of racing left a time vacuum, especially during the period after school and before Carol and John returned from work.
“When you kept Jeff occupied, you were good,” Kimberly says. “But when he had downtime, he didn’t always make the best choices. He’d tend to pick the mischievous kids and hang out with them.”
“My influences changed a lot when I went to junior high,” Jeff says. “I started break dancing and listening to different music and had other friends in my new neighborhood”—a number of whom were at least a couple years older and a bit more delinquently inclined.
“We started hanging out with different crowds,” Rod Sherry remembers. “He was with some guys who were getting in a lot of trouble—at that age I guess it was kind of the cool thing. I didn’t get along with them that well because I thought they were kind of punks.”
One of those new acquaintances was a fifteen-year-old named Chris, whose single mother worked nights and who had been cruising in his own car for several years.
“There were a lot of very good reasons why we didn’t like him,” says Carol. Lack of parental supervision. Petty vandalism. Girls. Beer drinking. Pot smoking. And what she didn’t know, she suspected. “I’d probably be very naïve to think Jeff wasn’t doing that, too.”
Jeff had his own assessment: “He was fun to hang out with. It was never boring.”
The two youngsters had a common ruse: Chris would knock on Jeff’s front door for Jeff to come outside and play. Carol would watch them set off on foot, but they’d quickly turn the corner, hop in Chris’s ride. Soon those daytime excursions turned into nighttime.
“When my parents went to bed, I would sneak out of my bedroom window,” Jeff recalls. “I’d taken the screen off and had a ladder so I could climb down. One night we drove to San Francisco—it’s like an hour drive—because Chris said, ‘There’s this parking garage that’s awesome to ride skateboards in.’ That was pretty big for a fifteen-year-old kid who had other kids that were fourteen, thirteen, and twelve in the car with him at midnight.”
The adolescent crew arrived in the city pre-dawn and broke into the locked carport. “It was a spiral garage,” Jeff remembers, “and we went up to the top, and we would get on our stomachs on the skateboards and race all the way to the bottom. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. Then we got in the car and drove back. I remember it being like three o’clock in the morning. I got back in the window and went to sleep and went to school the next day.”
But the amateur sneak had forgotten to put back the screen, as his mother discovered the next day. “She knew something was up,” Jeff says. “I was a terrible liar.”
One night, at one o’clock, she went to check on her son. His bed was empty. “I don’t remember where we went that night,” Jeff says. “But I remember coming home and the lights were on and the front door was cracked open, and I thought, ‘Uh oh, I’m in big trouble.’ ”
“I was like, ‘Get your ass in here right now!’ ” Carol says. “Yeah, that was not a good night for Jeff in our house.”
Jeff recalls that his parents told him to pack his bags, he was on his way to military school. Carol remembers him sitting on the front porch in the early morning with his belongings, crying his eyes out.
“In total, I snuck out of the house maybe a handful of times. It wasn’t a regular occurrence,” Jeff recalls. “There’s obviously a theme. I’ve never been afraid of trying new things, even when risk was involved.”
While he never went off to become Sgt. Gordon, Carol and John knew they needed a new plan to harness their son’s energy…
Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny is now available for pre-order from
Those who pre-order the book directly from will receive exclusive bonus material digitally before the book ships in October that will not be made available anywhere else!
The exclusive bonus material will give behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the book.
Additionally, those who pre-order the book directly from will receive an exclusive poster included with their book when it ships in October!
Gordon’s meteoric rise through racing’s ranks is a classic American success story. Readers will find inspiration in Gordon’s candid take on his pivotal life episodes.
The first-ever authorized biography, Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny is being written by Joe Garner, the five-time New York Times bestselling author.
Garner was given unprecedented access. “What truly impressed me in the making of this book is the time Jeff invested. There are so many books with very little time invested by the drivers, but Jeff gave me unparalleled access at the race track, at special events – and at his home – over the past 15 months,” says Garner.
The book is based on those extensive interviews with Gordon – as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of family members, friends, competitors, and colleagues, some of whom have never gone on the record before.
“He put nothing off-limits and encouraged the people to speak honestly,” says Garner. “And Jeff speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about his childhood, his much publicized divorce, those he competed against, his family, and life after racing.”
This fully illustrated 192-page 8.5”x12” hardcover biography will allow privileged access to a wealth of exclusive unseen and rare material from Gordon’s personal photo and memorabilia collection.
Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny is scheduled to be released on October 18th, 2016.
This book has been and continues to be a very special project for Jeff that provides the opportunity to open up about his personal life on and off the track, as well as pay tribute to those who have supported him.
If you pre-order the book, please let us know by replying to We’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about the book excerpts as they are released leading up to the launch of the book.
Click Here to Pre-Order Your Copy of Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny!
Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny will also be available wherever fine books are sold.
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