An American race car driver and team owner Robby Gordon, the former Champ Car and NASCAR competitor, in recent years is most known as the founder of the Stadium Super Trucks Series and regular Dakar Rally entrant.
In 115 Champ Car and Indy Car starts between 1992 and 2004, Gordon won two races. In more than 450 starts in two NASCAR national series, Gordon scored four victories. At Dakar Rally, his best result was third place in 2009. And finally, he won two titles in the Stadium Super Trucks Series in 2013 and 2014.
Robby Gordon followed father's racing footsteps
With the creation of the Stadium Super Trucks series (current name is Speed Energy Formula Off-Road), Robby Gordon symbolically made a full circuit in a racing career because his first race cars were off-road cars. Considering that Robby, born on January 2, 1969, in Cerritos, California, is a son of the famous American off-road racer Baja Bob Gordon, it was natural to follow the father's footsteps and to start the racing career in a dust and gravel.
Seven off-road titles, six Baja 500 and Baja 1000 wins
Robby has won five consecutive class championships in the SCORE International series from 1986 to 1990. In that period, he also won two championships in the Mickey Thompson stadium series. In the most famous North American off-road races, Baja 500 and Baja 1000, he was the winner four times. Later in a career, during his days in other racing disciplines, Gordon continued to compete in the off-road races, so he took two more championship titles in 1996 and 2009. In 2005, he won Baja 500 and in 2006, he won trophy truck class at Baja 1000.
Daytona 24h class victory in debuting attempt
After few successful years in off-road racing exclusively, 21-year-old Robby Gordon decided to expand his racing experience. In 1990, he joined Roush Racing to compete in the IMSA GTO Championship. His debut, at 24 hours of Daytona, was victorious. He shared the #15 Mercury Cougar XR-7 with Calvin Fish and Lyn St.James on the way to GTO class victory and 5th place overall. In March, the victory at 12 hours of Sebring followed. With three more wins, at Meadowlands, Lime Rock Park and Del Mal Fairgrounds, Gordon finished second in the final standings, behind teammate Dorsey Schroeder.
In November 1990, Gordon made his debut in stock car racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, driving the Ford for Donlavey Racing in the last race of the ARCA Series season. He surprised everybody by winning the pole. In the race, he finished 21st.
Gordon repeated Daytona and Sebring wins in 1991
One more IMSA GTO season with Roush Racing followed in 1991, and Gordon again finished second in the points, just four points behind Pete Halsmer. At 24 hours of Daytona, Gordon again took the class victory, driving the #15 Ford Mustang alongside Mark Martin and Wally Dallenbach. Gordon repeated the victory at 12 hours of Sebring and scored three more wins at Portland, Road Atlanta and Del Mar.
NASCAR debut in 1991 Winston Cup Series
During 1991 season, Robby Gordon debuted in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, in the first two races of the season, at Daytona and Richmond. He was driving the #90 Donlavey's Ford to 18th place finish at Daytona 500 and 26th place at Richmond.
At 1992 Daytona 24-hour race, Robby Gordon, Dorsey Schroeder and Wally Dallenbach Jr. were classified first in the GTS class, although they didn't finish the race due to engine failure at Roush Racing's Ford Mustang. Later in the season, Gordon scored one more victory with Mustang at Del Mar, to finish 5th in the IMSA GTS classification.
Gordon's focus in 1992 was on the CART Champ Car World Series. He competed in seven races for Chip Ganassi Racing, finishing best in 8th place at Toronto and Cleveland.
Fourth in a row Daytona class win for Robby
The season 1993 started with one more class victory, fourth in a row, at 24 hours of Daytona. Gordon's teammates in the #11 Roush Racing's Ford Mustang were Wally Dallenbach Jr., Robbie Buhl and Tom Kendall. It was Gordon's only race in the IMSA championship because he joined AJ Foyt Enterprises for the full season in the Champ Car World Series.
Second place in the Indy Car race at Surfers Paradise
Gordon started the 1993 Indy Car season with third place at the Australian round at Surfers Paradise, behind Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi. Back in America, Gordon drove fifteen more races, including his first Indianapolis 500, to finish 10th in the final standings. His best result was second place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At Indy 500, Gordon retired after 165 laps due to gearbox failure.
In the 1993 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Gordon appeared only at Talladega's Die Hard 500 race and he crashed after 55 laps in Yates Racing's Ford. The similar thing repeated in 1994, with Gordon's crash in his one-off Winston Cup appearance at Michigan, in the Kranefuss-Haas Racing's Ford.
Two wins in 1995 Indy Car World Series season
Gordon's main job in 1994 was in the cockpit of the #9 Walker Racing Lola-Ford in the Indy Car World Series. He scored three podiums at Long Beach, Detroit and Vancouver, to finish 5th in the points. Gordon remained with Walker Racing in 1995 and reached his first Indy Car victory, on April 2 at Phoenix International Raceway. On June 11, the second victory followed at Detroit's Belle Isle circuit. With one more podium, at Vancouver, Gordon finished 5th in the final classification.
In 1996, the third and last season with Walker Racing in the Indy Car World Series, Gordon's best result was the third place in the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami. Later in the season, he wasn't better than eighth, to finish 18th in the series' standings.
Double runner-up in the Race of Champions
In the 1996 International Race of Champions, Gordon finished second, behind Mark Martin. In NASCAR, Gordon competed in three races of the Winston Cup Series and two races of the Truck Series, but without notable results.
Two of three Winston Cup races in 1996, Gordon was driving the #40 Chevrolet for Felix Sabates' Team SABCO. It remained his car in the 1997 Winston Cup season, in which he had 20-race schedule. His best result was fourth place at Watkins Glen in August. In the 1997 Race of Champions, Gordon again took the second place.
He had no enough fuel to win Indianapolis 500
In 1998, Robby Gordon returned to CART FedEx Championship Series, driving for Arciero-Wells Racing. His best result was 7th place at Nazareth Speedway. He had a similar result in 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series season, competing a full season for his own team. His best result was 8th place in three races, to finish 20th in the points. At Indianapolis 500, he finished fourth after left out of fuel in a closing lap while leading.
Team Gordon lasted for just one season
In 2000, Robby switched his focus again on NASCAR Winston Cup, this time, partnering with John Menard and Mike Held. They formed Team Gordon, which lasted only one season. Robby was driving #13 Ford in 17 races, finishing best in two road course races, 4th at Watkins Glen and 9th at Sonoma.
Controversial maiden Cup victory at New Hampshire
In 2001, Gordon started Winston Cup season in the Morgan-McClure's #4 Chevrolet. In two races he was driving Ultra Motorsports' #7 Ford, finishing second at Sonoma. Gordon switched to #31 Ford of Richard Childress Racing in July at New Hampshire. In the last race of the season, again at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon scored his maiden NASCAR victory.
The New Hampshire 300 race was originally scheduled for September 11 but was postponed to November 23 due to 9/11 terrorist attacks. In a controversial finish, with some bumps between two Gordons, the eventual champion Jeff Gordon spun off while Robby Gordon took his first ever NASCAR victory. It also brought him a contract for 2002 season with Richard Childress Racing.
Second overall in 2002 return to Daytona 24h
Before the start of the 2002 Winston Cup season, Robby returned to Daytona 24-hour race with Jim Matthews Racing. He was driving the #2 Riley & Scott prototype, alongside Jim Matthews, Scott Sharp and Guy Smith. They finished second overall, behind Doran Lista Racing's crew.
In his first full season with Richard Childres Racing, Robby finished 20th in the Winston Cup classification. His best result was third place at Watkins Glen.
Robby swept NASCAR road course wins in 2003
In 2003, Gordon remained with RCR and it became his career-best NASCAR season. The #31 Ford was victorious in two races, at both road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. At Sonoma, Gordon won after a controversial but legal pass under caution, taking the leading position from teammate Kevin Harvick. His third and last Cup victory, in August at The Glen, was clean, without any controversies.
Final NASCAR victory with his own team
2004 was the milestone year in Robby Gordon's career. He formed his own team, named Robby Gordon Motorsports, after he and John Menard bought the former Team Menard base in North Carolina. For the first season, Gordon planned to compete with #55 Chevrolet in the Busch Series. Unlike his first attempt with his own team, RGM became the successful and Gordon scored his first Busch Series win in team's debut season. He won in Emerson Radio 250 race at Richmond International Raceway.
Last appearances at Indy 500 and Daytona 24h
In the 2004 Nextel Cup Series, Gordon spent the season with Richard Childress Racing, finishing best in fourth place at Darlington Raceway and 23rd in the final standings. Since 2005, Robby Gordon Motorsports ran its operations both in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series.
In 2004, Gordon participated for the last time at Indianapolis 500. Since he left single-seater racing after 1999, he regularly appeared once in a year at the greatest American race, driving for different teams. In five attempts between 2000 and 2004, his best result was 6th place in 2000.
In 2004, Gordon also recorded his last appearance at 24 hours of Daytona. He partnered Doug Goad, Milka Duno and Stephane Gregoire in the #09 Crawford DP03 of Spirit of Daytona team. They finished 35th overall.
Robby was close to wins at The Glen and Sonoma
In following seven seasons in the NASCAR Nextel/Sprint Cup Series, between 2005 and 2011, Gordon wasn't better than 26th in the final series' standings. He scored best results at road course races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, finishing second at The Glen in 2005 and second at Sonoma in 2010. He added 4th and 5th place at Watkins Glen in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Other notable results were 8th place at 2008 Daytona 500 and 6th place at Daytona's Coke Zero in 2008.
In August 2011, Gordon admitted that he is a "start and park" driver and act like that for the rest of the season. In 2012, he participated in three more Sprint Cup races and closed his NASCAR career. His last NASCAR race was Toyota/Save Mart 350 in June 2012 at Sonoma Raceway.
Gordon was regular Dakar Rally competitor since 2005
In 2005, starting his NASCAR team owner/driver adventure, Robby Gordon also started another type of adventure, participating for the first time at Dakar Rally. He was driving the Volkswagen Touareg for the Red Bull sponsored Volkswagen factory team. He became the first American to win a stage in the car division of the Dakar Rally. After 16 days of racing across northern Africa, Gordon finished in 12th place.
Gordon reached the Dakar podium in 2009
In 2006, Gordon came to Dakar Rally with his own Hummer H3. He retired at Stage 9 of the event. Since then, he was a regular competitor at Dakar Rally and his Hummer became famous all over the world. The highlight of the Dakar career was the first event in South America in 2009 when Gordon finished third overall.
In later editions of Dakar Rally, Gordon's best result was 8th place in 2010. He had been excluded disqualified twice, in 2012 because of illegal engine modifications and in 2016, after unsporting behavior at road section.
The Stadium Super Trucks series was Gordon's 'child'
The last chapter in Robby Gordon's sporting business career was opened in 2013, with a formation of the Stadium Super Trucks Series. After he left NASCAR, Gordon explained that one of the reasons was a large disadvantage of smaller teams compared to top teams. He wanted the Stadium Super Trucks series to be a "drivers' series", with all trucks identical to each other, so the drivers could have fair fights.
In the first season, the 14-race series took place mostly at American stadiums, with few events at street circuits. Gordon wasn't just an owner, he was also a competitor and first season's champion.
Stadium Super Trucks expansion to Australia
The series became popular and the concept spread over, so Super Trucks appeared at 2014 X Games in Austin and 2014 Race of Champions at Barbados. The 2014 SST championship was renamed to Speed Energy Formula Off-Road and it took place mostly at street circuits. One event was the supporting event fo Indianapolis 500. Gordon again took the championship title. In 2015, Super Trucks went to Australia and raced in the supporting events of V8 Supercars races. Robby Gordon finished second in the final standings, behind Sheldon Creed.
Exclusion from 2016 Dakar Rally
The 18-year-old Creed was Gordon's teammate at 2016 Dakar Rally. They both drove Gordini SC1 trucks for Team Speed Energy and both were disqualified. Creed was disqualified after bypassing some checkpoints and making some repairs against the rules while Gordon was excluded from the race after he was caught on camera in unsporting behavior at the road section.
The incident happened after the last stage when some members of Gordon's crew decided to pass some bottles from one car to another, window-to-window. It causes an accident in which luckily nobody was hurt, but Gordon earned exclusion from the race.
In 2016, Gordon continues to race in the Formula Off-Road series, again against the young Creed as his toughest rival.