Camelot Crashes: Jeff and Brooke Head For Divorce

SpeedReading

By DAVE MOODY

Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus

There’s big news in NASCAR-land this week, and it has nothing to do with anything that happened on the racetrack.

A Palm Beach (Fla.) newspaper reported last week that Brooke Gordon has filed for divorce from multi-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, Jeff Gordon. In documents filed with the county court there, Brooke Gordon called her marriage "irretrievably broken as a result of the husband's marital misconduct." Brooke Gordon has requested that she be awarded the couple’s 200,000-plus square foot home in Florida, continuation of full-time housekeeping and kitchen staffs, at least two luxury/sports cars, and shared use of the couple’s private airplane, along with alimony payments to be determined.

The term “marital misconduct” has gotten a good deal of play in recent days, with most observers assuming it to be an allegation of infidelity by Brooke Gordon against her husband. Legal experts say, however, that marital misconduct covers a wide array of potential complaints, ranging from outright infidelity to something as simple as not spending enough time at home.

Jeff Gordon made only a brief statement on the situation last weekend, saying, "As you are probably well aware, Brooke has filed for divorce. Being a personal matter, I hope that everybody will respect our privacy as we work through this difficult time. I also hope everybody will understand that it would be improper for me to discuss or comment on this matter publicly."

Documents filed by Brooke Gordon state that Jeff Gordon is temporarily living with “a business
associate in North Carolina.” In fact, SpeedReading has learned that Gordon is bunking with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, for the time being, until more permanent arrangements can be made.

While many were surprised by the announcement, former NASCAR Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip said divorce is a hazard of the trade.

“It's a demanding sport,” said Waltrip this week. ”It takes so much of your time. It takes so much dedication. Most racing wives say, "Hey, that guy's married to the car first, and me second." Sometimes, that takes its toll on a relationship. It doesn't come as a huge surprise to me that sometimes things don't go right at home for any superstar athlete.”

While the specific reasons behind Brooke Gordon’s filing have not yet been made public, sources close to the situation say it may be related to her desire to begin a career in television and movies. Unconfirmed stories say that Brooke - a former model who met her husband while serving as “Miss Winston” - spoke with talent agents earlier this year, who encouraged her to pursue an entertainment career, saying she had the looks, demeanor and talent to step out of her husband’s shadow and forge a successful career of her own.

Perhaps, sources say, Brooke Gordon has decided that being somebody is better than simply being somebody’s wife.

While Jeff Gordon hears more than his share of boos from the grandstands, most observers on NASCAR’s Winston Cup pit road openly admire and respect him, both for his obvious talent behind the wheel of a racecar, and also for his ability to handle the incredible pressures and demands associated with the job.

“I feel sorry for Jeff,” said one member of the traveling NASCAR media corps last week. “Brooke was his first love, and in the position he’s in now, it’s going to be very difficult for him to find someone to spend the rest of his life with. No matter who comes along in the future, he will never be 100-percent sure that they love him for him, instead of for who he is and what he has.”

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Andy Santerre is coming home to the NASCAR Busch North Series. Santerre and his Charlotte, NC-based Andy Santerre Motorsports team will compete for the 2002 NASCAR Busch North Series Championship, with sponsorship from LesCare Kitchens.

Santerre, the 1998 Busch Series Rookie of the Year, said he looks forward to returning to New England, after spending the last four years racing part-time on the NASCAR Busch Series.

“I am excited to team up with LesCare Kitchens to run for the Busch North Championship,” said the Cherryfield, Maine, native. “I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I would in my racing career, but I have never won a NASCAR Championship. My goal is to add the Busch North title to my resume. With backing from LesCare, I believe we have a legitimate shot.

“I have always bragged on the Busch North Series and its drivers while racing in the south. Though only a handful of drivers have made it to the southern ranks of NASCAR racing, there is a large crop of talent in the northeast. I have gained an enormous amount of experience in the past four years, running against some of the most recognized drivers in NASCAR. I believe that experience will help me in the Busch North Series. I feel we can realistically vie for the championship.”

Santerre is a popular and well-known driver on the Busch North Series. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1993, the Most Popular Driver Award in `94, and finished second in points in 1996. In 101 career starts, Santerre has 10 wins, 14 Bud Poles, 42 top-five and 61 top-10 finishes, making him one of the most decorated veterans on the series.

LesCare Kitchens has been involved in motorsports since 1994, backing drivers like Todd Bodine, Casey Atwood, Ted Christopher, Curtis Markham, Reggie Ruggiero, and Kelly Moore.

“I’m proud to be associated with LesCare Kitchens,” said Santerre, who will continue to run his team out of North Carolina, traveling to New England throughout the season. “They are one of the most recognized sponsors in NASCAR, and I am privileged to be their flagship driver for 2002.”

Along with a full schedule of Busch North Series racing, Santerre is searching for additional sponsorship that would allow him to run a limited number of southern Busch Series events, as well.

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Third-generation driver Adam Pierson is going to be busy this summer.

The 18-year old Spaulding High senior dominated the Sportsman Coupe division at Bradford’s Bear Ridge Speedway last season en route to the 2002 track championship, and also got some time behind the wheel of a full-blown dirt modified at New Hampshire’s Canaan Speedway. Now, Pierson is ready to test the asphalt wars at Barre’s Thunder Road, at the wheel of a Flying Tiger entry purchased from his uncle, Thunder Road favorite “Fast Eddie” Patterson.

"Adam raced at Thunder Road on Milk Bowl weekend last year," said his father, Gene Pierson, a twenty-year dirt-track veteran. "He enjoyed it, and he did pretty well. But asphalt racing requires more patience than dirt tracks do. On dirt, you throw the car sideways and muscle your way through the corners. Break loose at Thunder Road, and you're in trouble."

Pierson’s plans call for a full schedule of Thursday night racing throughout the summer, along with a continued slate of dirt track action at Bear Ridge and Canaan on Friday and Saturday nights.

The East Corinth youngster is one of at least seven NAPA Flying Tiger Rookie of the Year candidates set to make their debut at Thunder Road's 43rd season opener on Sunday, May 5. He will be joined on the Barre highbanks by former Thunder Road Street Stock competitors Marc Jones of Georgia, VT, Williamstown's Justin Hart, Fred Dezan of Barre, Ron Morrill of Richmond, and Terry Pearce, Jr., of Middlesex, along with former Airborne Raceway Street Stock ace Chris Cayea of Mooers Forks, NY.

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Short (Track) Subjects…

…Speaking of the Tigers, Airborne Raceway in Plattsburgh will hold its richest-ever NAPA Flying Tiger event on Saturday, June 1, when it hosts round one of ACT’s four-race, four-track Flying Tiger "Grand Slam" Series. The 100-lap event carries a $7,500 purse, with $1,200 going to the winner.

Other ACT Flying Tiger "Grand Slam" events will be contested at New Hampshire’s Canaan USA and Riverside Speedways on June 23 and August 17, and at Thunder Road on September 8. Riverside track manager, Marvin Galarneau, said, "This new series will allow regular Riverside Sportsman competitors to travel to other area tracks, and still earn local points. Because the Sportsman car at Riverside is built with the same rules as the Flying Tigers, the competition is generally fierce when they get together.

“This series will give our competitors great experience, and the fans some tremendous racing.”

The Grand Slam Series will carry a $5,900 point fund, with $1,500 going to the overall champion. ACT has issued 63 NAPA Flying Tiger licenses to date.

…Riverside Speedway is set to open its 2002 season on Friday, May 17, with a practice session starting at noon, for all divisions except the Enduro cars. The next day at noon, the Groveton oval will host the 22nd Annual “NAPA All Star Race Car Show,” which is open to all divisions. That night, Riverside Speedway will kick off the season's racing action at 7:05 pm with round one of the Subway Shops Enduro Series, along with a ladies’ 75-lap Enduro.

On Memorial Day weekend, Saturday May 25, the stock cars take to the Riverside oval for the 22nd annual NAPA Spectacular. A full card of racing is set for the Cyclones, Strictly Stocks, Sportsman, Dwarf Cars, Legends, and STARS vintage racers, headlined by a 50-lap main event for the North East Drivers’ Association Late Models. Post time is 7:05.

…Despite being generally non-competitive on the NASCAR Busch Series, BACE Motorsports and driver Chad Little will move their operation to the Winston Cup Series for as many as 15 races this season. The team's
limited schedule will initially focus on intermediate tracks, beginning with the April 28 “NAPA Auto Parts 500” at
California Speedway. Little plans to run the Winston Open and Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, along with the June events at Dover and Michigan. Little’s teammate, Tony Raines, will also reportedly be moved ot the Cup Series, as soon as next season.

BACE Motorsports won three-straight Busch Series titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997, with drivers Johnny Benson and Randy LaJoie, but have been midfield contenders in recent seasons.