Jeff Gordon makes emotional return to where it all began for him

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Jeff Gordon took an emotional walk down memory lane Saturday, appearing at Roy Hayer Memorial Speedway in Rio Linda, Calif.

It was there where Gordon cut his racing teeth in quarter-midget racing on what was then called Cracker Jack Track, according to Mike Hembree of USA Today.

“Racing here was fun,” Gordon said. “We had good friends here and the families were involved. It’s exactly like I remember it, except there were some big weeping willow trees on the bank around the track that are gone.

“I don’t remember my first race here, but I remember some of the early ones. One of the first ones I remember was hitting the wall and flipping and screaming. I remember that. I don’t remember much that happened right after that.”

Several hundred people attended the event, including a number of Gordon’s former competitors. After the event, Gordon, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., appeared at a grammar school he attended.

From the time he was five to 11 years old, Gordon won countless races at Cracker Jack Track before he and his family moved to central Indiana, allowing him to further pursue his racing career going into his teens.

Speaking of family, Gordon brought wife Ingrid and the couple’s two children, Ella and Leo, along to where he laid down the initial roots of what would become an illustrious career.

“I got a little emotional, seeing all the old friends and people I hadn’t seen or talked to for years,” Gordon said. “And seeing the kids racing on the track was cool.

“It being the first track I ever raced on, it means a lot. As I fast-forward and go through my whole career and look back on it, that track is very significant to me — and to others.”

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