Jeff Gordon’s driving instructor killed in Tennessee crash

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A retired school principal from Indiana that served as driver’s education teacher for four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was killed along with his wife on Monday in a car accident in Tennessee.

Per the Associated Press, Larry Sparks, 78, and Jackie Sparks, 77, died after their recreational vehicle went off Interstate 75 near Jellico, Tennessee and hit a tree.

Fox 59 in Indianapolis also reports that Larry and Jackie’s daughter, Debbie, sustained injuries in the accident and needed to be airlifted to a hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The trio were on their way back home after watching Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, in which Gordon finished second.

Larry was a teacher and principal at Tri-West High School outside Indianapolis, while Jackie was a retired elementary school teacher. Debbie is also a teacher as well.

Upon hearing the news, Gordon expressed his sorrow on social media and called Larry one of his biggest fans. Embedded in his postings on both Twitter and Facebook are pictures of the two at a Jeff Gordon fan club event.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sparks’ family and friends at this time.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).