The father of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Robby Gordon, and the elder Gordon’s wife, died Wednesday in an apparent murder-suicide at their home in Orange, Calif. near Anaheim, multiple news sources report.
Robert Gordon, 68, is believed to have strangled his wife, Sharon, 57, and then fatally shot himself, Orange police Lt. Fred Lopez told the Associated Press. Robert Gordon was Robby Gordon's father and Sharon Gordon his stepmother, reported KTLA in California.
“I can’t believe it,” Robby Gordon told the Associated Press Thursday. “I grew up on this property my whole life. I learned everything about motorsports out of this little tiny barn over here.”
Gordon, 47, declined to speak further about his parents’ death until authorities conclude their investigation. “The truth will come out, what went down there,” he told the Associated Press.
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Robby Gordon competed in 396 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from 1991-2012, and he won three times during that span – at New Hampshire in 2001, and at Sonoma and Watkins Glen in 2003, according to NASCARcom. He drove the No. 31 for Richard Childress Racing from 2001-04, then had his own team, Robby Gordon Motorsports, for the rest of his career in the No. 7.
The elder Gordon had three daughters, one of whom, Beccy, is the wife of 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Robby Gordon told the Associated Press his father, a racer known as “Baja Bob” in the motorsports community, instilled in him a love of speed and competition in the Orange County neighborhood 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Robert Gordon started out in horse racing at the local track in Los Alamitos, California, before getting into auto racing.
“He taught me at a young age that one horsepower wasn’t going to be enough – go do something different,” Gordon recalled his father saying. “And I was fortunate enough to do something different.”
Robby Gordon currently races in an off-road series he created in 2013 called Speed Energy Formula Off-Road, following the path of his father.
Other NASCAR drivers began reacting to the news on Thursday, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who tweeted “Praying for friends @RobbyGordon @BeccyGordon and the Gordon family during this difficult time. Hope they find strength and support.”
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson called the news “heartbreaking” and told Fox Sports that Robert Gordon had given him his first off-road ride.
“(Robert) gave me my first ride in an off-road buggy,” NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson told Fox Sports. “He said, ‘My dad was so proud of you. He used to always brag that you used to ride with him in the desert cars.’
“But he didn’t go into anything emotionally. He said his dad was a big fan and used to brag about me,” Johnson said. “It made me smile a little bit, but it’s still a complete and utter shock.”
The Associated Press contributed