Friends and neighbors of Robby Gordon’s family were stunned to learn about the tragedy that took place in Orange, California, Wednesday when police said Gordon’s father, Robert Gordon, 68, first strangled his wife, Sharon, 57, then fatally shot himself.
"I am completely shocked," Tim Cecil, a family friend told the Los Angeles Times. "I am very sad for the family. It’s extremely heartbreaking." Cecil described the Gordons as "always fun to hang out with."
Residents in the upscale Orange neighborhood shared stories about the deceased couple’s friendly ways — swapping jokes with neighbors, gifting tickets to racing events and delivering feed personally to local equestrians.
"I can still see them walking hand in hand, walking their dogs down the street," said John Reina, who lives across the street. "To kind of wrap your head around this tragedy is very hard to do."
"I feel very sad," neighbor Jill Dombroske told USA Today. "Everyone here will be very sad."
Orange Police received a 911 call around 5 p.m. Wednesday, saying there were two bodies in the house, which is owned by Robby Gordon, the former NASCAR and IndyCar driver who is now is now an owner-driver in the Stadium Super Trucks Series.
So far, there is no known motive.
"There’s no witnesses," Lt. Fred Lopez of the Orange Police Department told the Orange County Register. "So that’s something we have to put together piecemeal. We have some ideas. But it’s all speculation. …We’ll eventually come to (an official) conclusion. But we may never really know why."
"I grew up on this property my whole life," Gordon told reporters Thursday. "I learned everything about motorsports out in this tiny little barn over here."
Race fans knew Robert Gordon as "Baja Bob" for his love of off-road racing. Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson got his first off-road truck ride with Gordon in the 1990s.
"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.’ "
The younger Gordon recalled how his father, a racer known as "Baja Bob" in the motorsports community, instilled in him a love of speed and competition in the Orange County neighborhood 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where many residents own horses and dirt riding trails line the suburban streets.
Robert Gordon started out in horse racing at the local track in Los Alamitos, California, before getting into auto racing.
"He taught me at a young age that one horsepower wasn’t going to be enough — go do something different," Gordon recalled his father saying. "And I was fortunate enough to do something different."