The last competitors crossed the finish line of the gruelling 37th Dakar Rally at the end of last month in Buenos Aires. The 5,500 mile off-road race, which took place this year across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, challenged racers to climb mountains, race across deserts and ford across rivers in the ultimate endurance motorsport event. Yet, for Robby Gordon, there’s till distance to be covered.
Robby Gordon is an American race driver who is best known for being a NASCAR driver. Off road racing, however, runs deep in his blood. Gordon’s sister, Beccy, is an off-road racer as well, and his father is the off-road racing legend, “Baja” Bob Gordon. So naturally, throughout his career, Robbie has always competed in off-road events, even during his NASCAR years. He won 5 straight SCORE international off-road class championships from 1986-1990, which helped him earn the title of “The King of Sand.”
Robby is no stranger to Dakar either. In 2005, he drove for the Volkswagon sponsored Red Bull team and became the first American to win a rally stage (he won two and finishing 12th overall) in Dakar. What made 2015 different is that Robby raced as part of a privateer team, one with no major auto sponsor. Instead, he took on the task of driving, lead his crew and managed the team – he even assumed the role of vehicle designer. Considering the fact that other automotive teams like Mini, Peugot and Toyota have almost unlimited budgets, any competitive showing would be impressive. Yet, Robbie managed to come in first in the final stage of the Dakar Rally and finished a respectable 39th overall.
While Robby’s admirable performance is a success within itself, he has also accomplished another achievement that often eludes other Dakar competitors. Robby’s fame as a driver precedes him and that brings fans to his finishes. This racing stardom gives exposure to the Dakar rally, and the sport of off-road racing in general, especially in the United States where other forms of motor racing get much more press.
So even with another Dakar behind him, Robby won’t rest. He continually competes in both off-road and track events, most recently qualifying 2nd in the Parker 425 best off-road race.