With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visiting Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has taken on a deep shade of maroon.
We can thank Texas A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering for that. In a deal similar to that of Jamie McMurray running (and winning) with the Auburn colors last fall at Talladega, Charles Shaver – the CEO of Gordon’s main sponsor, Axalta Coating Systems, and an A&M graduate – has paid for Gordon’s car to carry the Aggie maroon and white at TMS.
In addition to the special livery, 28 students from Texas A&M Engineering will be able to learn more about how their lessons apply to the world of motorsports as VIP guests for the weekend.
Prior to heading for TMS, Gordon made the rounds at the A&M campus in College Station, Texas, where he showed off his special ride and joined up with A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin to watch a practice.
The four-time Sprint Cup champion didn’t go to college, but is hopeful that his own children will be able to have that privilege when they grow up.
“Every day, I wish that I had more of an education and just that experience in life, I think, is huge,” Gordon said. “Just going to college – the responsibilities of attending classes, having fun at parties – you know, the balance between being more responsible as an adult and stepping into the next stage of your life.”
As for interacting with the A&M students, Gordon says they’ve been glad to have the chance to interact with the Hendrick Motorsports engineers in a real-world setting.
A solid engineering program has become essential in NASCAR as the sport has become more sophisticated in its technology. Nowadays, top squads like HMS have legions of engineers on their payroll, all dedicated to squeezing more speed, more handling – more everything – out of their race cars.
Gordon figures that for those outside of the day-to-day life of the sport, that aspect can be overlooked. Thus, he welcomes the opportunity to help show aspiring engineers a possible plan for their future.
“I think people that aren’t in the Carolinas or at the race track every weekend underestimate how much technology and engineering goes into what we do,” he explained. “If you just go to Hendrick Motorsports and see the growth in engineering and people that are engineers, you start to get a sense of why this tie is so crucial and important.
“We’ve tapped into an engineering schools and students more around the Carolinas and the Midwest, but I’m not so sure we’ve tapped into schools like Texas A&M, and I think a lot of it is because maybe they just don’t realize that could be a potential path for them…”