There’s a new Gordon in town

Mount Holly teen a ‘Legend’ in the making

by Alan Hodge

16-year-old Corey Gordon prepares to race in the Winter Heat Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Courtesy of Janet Gordon)

When 16-year-old Corey Gordon of the Stonewater community near Mount Holly pursues his passion, it’s behind the wheel of a race car going 115 miles per hour.

The son of Mike and Janet Gordon and a student at Kings Academy Christian school in Charlotte, Corey has parlayed his need for speed into a National Championship in the Legends racing series. In 2011, Corey blew the doors off the competition by winning 26 of 45 races and finishing in the top five in all the rest of the contests. He races in the Semi-Pro Division.

The Legends series uses 5/8 scale replicas of stock car racers from the 1940s and early 1950s that are powered by four-cylinder Yamaha motorcycle engines producing up to 130 horsepower. They can hit top speeds of 115 miles per hour and cost upwards of $13,000.

The tracks that Corey and his competitors race on are paved ovals ranging in length from one-fifth to three-fourths of a mile.

Sixteen-year-old 2011 Legends racing series champ Corey Gordon left his competitors in the dust this year, winning 26 of 45 races in the Semi-Pro division. (Courtesy of Janet Gordon)

Gordon has racing in his genes with both his father, Mike, and grandfather William Gardner, being racing champs in the go-kart and micro midget categories. Janet Gordon said Corey had racing on his mind from a very early age.

“When he was a toddler he only wanted the NASCAR type Matchbox cars, not the other kinds,” Janet Gordon said. “He would make race tracks out of cardboard and a magic marker pen.”

It didn’t take Corey long to make the jump from toy race cars to the real thing. In December, 1999 at four-and-a-half years old, he took to the track for the first time in a go-kart at a track in Daytona, Fla.

“I knew from the first time I drove a go-kart that I wanted to be a race car driver,” Corey said. “I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps.”

Corey’s car sports the number 23, the same numeral that his dad and grandfather had on their cars.

Needless to say, there’s quite a thrill connected with being behind the wheel of a Legends car pocket rocket.

“I feel the adrenalin really bad when I’m on the starting grid,” Corey said. “But once the race starts, the butterflies go away.”

Though there is a certain element of danger in going door to door with other drivers at speeds most folks would never dream of achieving, Janet Gordon has faith that Corey is well-protected.

“He has all the same safety equipment that NASCAR drivers do,” she said. “I wouldn’t let him do it if he wasn’t protected.”

According to Corey, in addition to the roll cage and other safety features found in his Legends car, he also wears a fireproof suit, full-face helmet, and HANS safety harness.

Corey’s success has brought widespread media attention. He was been interviewed on a Speed Channel TV series when he was just 8 years old, and has several YouTube videos on the Internet, including one taken from a camera in his car during a race.

Even though he’s seen speeds that most teen drivers can only imagine, Corey stresses that the highway isn’t a place to show off.

“There’s a place for everything,” he said. “If people want to go fast, they should do it on a racetrack instead of the road where you risk not only your life, but others’ as well.”

Corey said he is more than ready for the big time in the world of auto racing.

“I hope to become a NASCAR driver and do it for the rest of my life,” Corey said. “But it’s all in the Lord’s hands.”

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