CHICAGO — Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson remembers vividly the first time he rode in an off-road desert car with “Baja Bob” Gordon about 25 years ago.
Johnson retold the story Thursday while saying he was in “complete and utter shock” to learn Gordon, father of former NASCAR and open-wheel driver Robby Gordon, had been found dead with his wife in their Southern California home. Police said 68-year-old Robert Gordon strangled 57-year-old wife Sharon Gordon and fatally shot himself in their gated house in Orange.
“I had a motion sickness problem, riding in a car. And I rode in the Baja 500 and puked, literally, for 499 miles,” Johnson said. “My dad was in one of the pitstops and we stopped and I’m just covered in vomit. And he’s trying to pull me out. But I wanted to race so bad I didn’t care how bad I felt. I said, ‘I’m staying in this race car. I’m not getting out.’ I made the race, but it wasn’t pretty.”
His motion sickness problem taken care of, Johnson later drove his own car in the off-road Baja race. Johnson and the elder Gordon remained in contact and Johnson on Thursday tweeted a picture of them once talking in the pits at a NASCAR race.
Bob Gordon was a well-known and successful off-road racer that Johnson admired. He said he talked to Robby Gordon briefly Thursday after learning the news.
“He said, ‘My Dad was so proud of you. He used to brag that he rode with you in desert cars.'” Johnson said. “But he didn’t go into anything emotionally. He just said that his dad was a big fan. It made me smile a little bit, but it’s still just complete and utter shock.”