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.
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.
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.