Ford lost Chase Elliott to Chevrolet after it couldn’t come to an agreement with Chase’s dad, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, to sign his son/prodigy.
Now comes word from Tom Jensen at FoxSports.com that John Bickford, Jeff Gordon’s stepfather and business manager, did something few people have ever dared to do:
He hung up on Ford team owner Jack Roush – not once, but twice.
Roush was heavily courting Gordon to join Roush Racing, particularly since Gordon had driven a Bill Davis-owned Ford Thunderbird in his two seasons in the then-Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) in 1991 and 1992.
Gordon finished 11th in 1991 and fourth in 1992, including winning three races, plus 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, plus 11 poles in 31 starts.
As Jensen relates what Bickford told him, Roush called Bickford during 1992 and said he wanted to hire Gordon to race in the then-Winston Cup Series.
Then came an action that would forever change NASCAR history:
Bickford wanted to keep Gordon linked to crew chief Ray Evernham as part of essentially a package deal.
Roush, in turn, told Bickford, “My drivers don’t get to pick their own crew chiefs. I do that.”
The next thing Roush heard was a click, as Bickford had hung up on him. Only Jack didn’t know – and would certainly never expect – Bickford intentionally hung up on him.
Roush immediately called Bickford again, believing there was a problem with the connection on the previous call. Bickford essentially said, au contraire, Jack, because the hang-up was intentional.
Roush tried to reason with Bickford about all the cost of investment into the young Gordon’s career he’d have to make, with no guarantee of a great return on that investment.
Bickford hung up again, and so went any chance of Gordon, who eventually became a four-time Sprint Cup champion and winner of 92 races with Chevrolet, remaining with Ford.
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