Jimmie Johnson remembers Robby Gordon’s father following his death

Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

Chase Media Day in Chicago was supposed to be a happy affair, with 16 drivers talking about their chances at winning the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But for six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, it was a gut-wrenching affair.

Johnson, a native of Southern California, was visibly distraught Thursday afternoon, when talked about the death of Robert “Baja Bob” Gordon, 68, and Gordon’s wife, Sharon, 57, who died Wednesday afternoon in Orange, Calif.

Police are investigating the case as a possible murder-suicide or double suicide.

Bob Gordon was the father of racer Robby Gordon, and Johnson has been a family friend of the Gordons for more than two decades.

Johnson said he texted Robby and Robby’s sister Beccy to offer his condolences.

Beccy Gordon, the wife of 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, gave birth to a boy Wednesday.

“His dad gave me my first ride in an off-road buggy,” said Johnson of Robby. “He said, ‘My dad was so proud of you. He used to always brag that you used to ride with him in the desert cars.’

“But he didn’t go into anything emotionally. He said his dad was a big fan and used to brag about me,” Johnson said. “It made me smile a little bit, but it’s still a complete and utter shock.”

And on a profoundly sad day, Johnson summoned up a funny memory of riding with Bob Gordon in the Baja 500 off-road race in the early 1990s.

“I didn’t know I had a motion sickness problem riding in a car,” Johnson said. “And I rode in the Baja 500 and puked, literally, for 499 miles. My dad was in one of the pit stops and I was stopped and just covered in vomit. Rags all over the inside of the car with me. He was trying to pull me out, but I wanted to race so bad I didn’t care how bad I felt ‘I’m staying in this race car I’m not getting out.’ I made the race but it wasn’t pretty.”

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