CHARLOTTE — Four days after turning 50, Robby Gordon is returning to the Dakar Rally, the off-road classic that he occasionally has threated to win during 11 previous starts.
He might have unfinished business with another of auto racing’s crown jewels, too.
In a new episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast to discuss his Dakar outing, Gordon revealed that he also took a “very serious” look at returning to the Indianapolis 500 last year.
Might he return this May to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, which he nearly won in 1999 before running out of fuel while leading with a lap remaining?
“We’ve looked at the Indy 500,” said Gordon, who has seven starts at Indy, most recently in 2004. “I don’t know if it’s worth the roulette wheel. If you look at what happened with young Robert Wickens, who I think was one of the most awesome talents coming up through the sport, you look at how quick that changes. That’s a risk you have to be willing to take.”
Wickens was seriously injured in a crash last year at Pocono Raceway. Gordon has expressed misgivings about running ovals with IndyCar in the past, noting in 2006 that he had shifted to stock cars in part because he felt safer.
Gordon is heavily involved in running his Stadium Super Trucks series (in which he also races) and its spinoff consumer product potential. He also is invested in helping foster the burgeoning career of his 10-year-old son, Max, who already has been testing in SST.
“I don’t know with what we have going on in Max’s career and everything else if this is a risk I’m willing to take right now,” said Gordon, who joked that “maybe Max will be my Indy 500 kamikaze pilot.”
Gordon had two victories in the Champ Car series. He also was successful in NASCAR with four victories across the top two divisions, three on road courses.
Though his last Cup start was June 2012, he hasn’t ruled out a return there, too.
“A road course could interest me,” Gordon said on the podcast. “The Roval would be a lot of fun. Today, I’d still be top of the board when it came to road racing. I think that comes down to experience and being able to control a car, and that’s exactly what my SST will do for young drivers.”
Despite the near-misses at some signature wins, Gordon said he harbors few regrets about lacking a title in NASCAR or IndyCar. “If I would have stayed as a race car driver for one team, would I have a championship? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on if you’re sitting in the right seat at the right time. There’s a lot of variables that go into winning championships.
“It’s been cool. It’s been a fun career and it’s far from over.”
During the podcast, Gordon also discussed:
- What makes Dakar a special event;
- The innovative car he is bringing and why he thinks it’ll be an advantage;
- His visions for motorsports’ future;
- Balancing the logistics of owning a Dakar team with racing the event;
- The way to look at the race through the lens of a NASCAR season;