Gordons celebrate winning a National Championship
It has been a tough year and one of the worst for most people around the globe. A deadly virus, school shutdowns, business closures, and social restrictions have impacted many people. Still, among all that, there is one family in Paso Robles, making the most of a difficult situation and perhaps having one of the best years of their lives.
The Gordon family is a family of drag racers. This year, their dreams came true as Doug Gordon officially brought home the family’s first NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car National Championship in the Lucas Oil Series this past weekend.
Drag racing runs through the veins of everyone in the Gordon family. It’s been passed down for generations and will continue with the next as Doug’s daughters, Templeton High School students Maddi and Maci Gordon, have already caught the bug and enthusiastically spend their weekends with grease up to their elbows working on their dad’s car if they aren’t racing themselves.
“My dad started racing the car and driving the car; he owns the car, I just get to drive it now,” Doug told The Atascadero News. “He owned it and drove it for a few years, and I was like the kids working on the car when I was growing up. Then from the mid-’80s till the early ’90s, when I was 18, the economy had kind of taken a downturn, and we weren’t sure if we were going to keep racing, and they decided to give me a shot at driving before we quit. That was in 1993, I got my license then, and here we are in 2020.”
Racing has always been a family outing disguised as a competition for the tight-knit family. Doug’s father Mike is part of the racing team, and this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his daughters joined him on the road as well.
For the past five years, Maddi and Maci have been racing while also competing in high school sports and handling their school work. Each has their own cars and have spent the last few years dominating the Division 7 NHRA Junior Dragster League. They have four championships between the two girls, and with a little better luck, they could have as many as six.
Maci, the youngest who is a freshman at Templeton High School, won her age group in 2015, 2017, and 2019 and hopes to bounce back in 2021 since odd years appear to be her time to shine. Maddi, a junior, won in 2016 and nearly stood in the winner circle in 2018 and 2019, losing just by a few points due to car troubles.
This year began like any other year for the Gordon family, but things started to change when the pandemic hit in March. As all the county school districts made it clear that distance learning would open the 2020-2021 school year, the family realized an opportunity in front of them.
Over the years, Maddi and Maci would each get to attend a handful of their father’s races, depending on travel and schedules. This year, with no obligations except for a webcam on their laptop, Maddi and Maci traveled to every race and soaked up every ounce of information available to them.
“Last year, we would just take out the spark plugs after each round, take off the valve covers, drain the puke tank in the back, you know, just little things,” Maci said. “It was still really fun to us, but this year we have learned over half of what we learned last year. Me and her [Maddi] do so much on the car now that we would never have thought that we would have the chance to do so. It has been really cool.”
This year the Gordon racing team had two new mechanics, and suddenly the wins started pouring in. Over the last several years, Doug has been near the top of the sport, finishing in second, third, and third in consecutive seasons but couldn’t find that one thing that could put him and the team over the top.
“This year, when we get to the final round, we have actually been able to complete it and get the win a lot of times,” Doug said. “Some of it is because we did a better job; some of it is because we are luckier, and maybe the girls are my good luck charm. Since the girls have been with me, the win light comes on a lot more. Honestly, we have been to almost every final run since they have started coming and won more than half of them probably.”
The season has been incredibly fulfilling for Doug, a National Champion and his new blonde mechanics, who have loved spending time with the family and learning the tricks of the trade.
“At the beginning of the year, I was super upset because I was in the process of getting my license, so I had my permit, and COVID held me up from getting my license. I was super annoyed and thought this was the worst year ever, and I was determined that it was going to suck,” Maddi said. “Now, I describe this year as living my dream. I couldn’t want anything more. We travel with my Dad and Papa and Grandma and Rick all the time.”
Doug and the Gordon team were so dominant this year in the shortened COVID season that he didn’t even have to wait until the final weekend to watch their dream come true.
“We have been racing alcohol funny cars, my dad was driving and then I was driving, we’ve been doing it for 30-something years and we never really thought that this could actually happen,” Gordon said on the podium after winning the trophy. “This year, I just said the family is going on the road with me, and we’ve got a great team.”