'Girlie girls' team up to become off-road
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My name is Beccy, last name Gordon. Future Mrs.
Hunter-Reay and fourth generation racer; great
grand-daughter of Huntly Gordon, daughter of Baja
Bob & Robby's my brother. I love my man and I
love racing; everything from the Baja 1000 to the
Indy 500. I like photography, tweeting with fans,
go-karting, my furry friends, surfing,
snowboarding, golfing, tennis,boating, fishing and
I like to race too. I want to dial-in fans with the
lifestyle of the current IndyCar drivers. I speak
my mind and sometimes live my life in a Seinfeld
episode. Love all things racing & I'm the human
encyclopedia: IndyCar, NASCAR, SCORE, Dakar. love
my family & my four-legged friends. Advocate
for Racing For Cancer.
My dad races off-road cars. My mom pre-ran the
Baja 500 when she was seven months pregnant with
me. Ive asked her why, and she looks at me
Why? Why not? Maybe
thats where I get my spunk. My parents were
young and thats what they did, they loved the
desert. My mom wasnt letting a pregnancy
keep her down. Heres the picture, my parents
in my dads 1970s buggy, shocks with 2 inches
of travel going across the Baja Peninsula, my
brother, Robby, ratchet strapped to the gas tank,
my sister on my moms lap and me in her belly.
Its a hilarious sight if you can picture it
and probably defines our family well.
Once I was born, racing became my life. Nearly
every weekend of my childhood was spent at a race
track watching my dad and brother. We spent so
much time in the dirt that I would wear a bathing
suit everywhere so all my mom had to do was hose me
off at the end of the day. I was just a kid,
wearing a bathing suit, making dirt
angles, and riding my quad. I thought this
was what every little girl across America was doing
on an average weekend
well maybe not. Robby
was pretty good at racing. He raced motorcycles,
off-road cars; a Roush GTO Mustang in IMSA,
Indycars, NASCAR, back to Indy, now Dakar, NASCAR
and more off-road. While he was building his
career, I was getting pretty good at Softball. I
ultimately ended up as the youngest player on the
US National team that inducted softball into the
Olympics in 1992. Despite loving the sport I was
playing, nothing was as great as being at a
Fast forward, 10 years and youll find me
on pit lane at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix
talking about racing as a pit-reporter for
ChampCar. Luckily for me, my first day on the job
I met my best friend, future husband and
IndyCars resident hottie; Mr. Ryan
Hunter-Reay. He was the first person I have ever
met that loves all the same things as I do. We
both love racing (obviously, Ive said it 15
times so far), the ocean, golden-retrievers,
surfing, snowboarding, golfing, fishing, classic
rock and the list goes on and on. Im a lucky
So, here I am now, still at the racetrack and my
plan is to dial in race fans on paddock life. If
youve met me, youve probably met my
camera. My blog will be a little bit of
everything, photo essays, videos, and straight up
blogging. Hope you follow me!
Gordon hits the pavement in Toyota Pro/Celebrity
Off-road racer Beccy Gordons certainly no
stranger to being quick on the gas and hard on the
brake as she tries to out-race her opponents. But
having pavement under her race car is a much
different story as she prepares for the Toyota
Pro/Celebrity Race April 19, one of six events to
be run in conjunction with the Toyota Grand Prix of
Of course, the part owner and driver for
All-American Girl Racing is following in familiar
footsteps by getting her early pavement experience
at Long Beach. Beccys older brother, Robby,
finished second in the 1990 Long Beach IMSA GTO
race in just his fourth-ever pavement start before
heading to a career in Indy cars and now
Words cant express how thankful I am
to Toyota for inviting me to be part of this
incredible event, said Gordon. Toyota
has been a part of my family for many years and I
have attended this race since I was eight
years-old. Im still in shock that Im
going to be racing on the streets of Long Beach and
representing the off-road world! Its totally
Despite it being her first pavement start,
Gordon will participate as one of six racers in the
professional category that start the race 30
seconds behind the celebrity division. She will
compete against the likes of NFL Hall of Fame
running back Eric Dickerson, basketball Hall of
Famer Nancy Lieberman, That 70s
Show star Wilmer Valderrama, Dancing
With the Stars winner Drew Lachey, former NBA
star John Salley, ESPN NASCAR reporter Jamie Little
and fellow pros NASCAR SPRINT Cup driver Mike
Skinner, Tony Pedregon and Whit Bazemore, both NHRA
Funny Car champions, as well as former Olympic gold
medal cyclist Marty Nothstein.
I cant wait for the race! The
competition, not only in the pro category, but
amongst the celebrities is stout, relayed the
third-generation driver. I definitely have my
work cut out for me, but Im ready for the
challenge. If I can minimize my mistakes on the
track, I should be in good shape. This is such a
different beast than I am used to in the dirt. The
Scion tCs that we are driving are awesome
cars and handle like proper race cars on the
streets. They are fast little machines.
Toyotas created a monster in me
I found a new love.
In addition to the on-track competition, Gordon
also will be helping to raise money for
Racing For Kids, and in particular to
raise money for local childrens hospitals in
Southern California. To date, Toyota has donated
more than $1.6 million to local childrens
charities in conjunction with the Toyota
The best part about this race is giving
back to the kids in our community, said the
Orange County native. Im a local So-Cal
girl and Ive been able to see firsthand the
difference Toyota is making in the lives of some of
these kids. My race team and I have always
supported local charities and I look forward to
adding Racing for Kids as one of our
beneficiaries. Anytime you can put a smile on a
childs face, you know youve made a
difference even if its just for a
Robby Gordon's sister,
primarily an off-road driver, will be in Saturday's
Beccy Gordon just might be an accident waiting to
happen Friday on the streets of downtown Long
It's not that NASCAR driver Robby Gordon's
sister, one of the competitors in the Toyota
Pro/Celebrity race, can't handle a race car. In
2006, the Dana Hills resident teamed with her
sister Robyn Gordon and Heather Bonnani as part of
All American Girl Racing and finished the Baja 1000
while competing in the Baja Challenge division.
That made them the first all-female team in the
race's history to complete one of the most grueling
endurance tests in motor sports.
The way she learned how to drive, though, is as
untamed as the terrain in the Mexican desert that
she conquered two years ago.
Passing is not something that happens a whole
lot in off-road racing. But whenever she happened
to come up on a slower driver, she gives them a
tap, a signal to let them know that it's time to
move over and let her by.
Those kinds of tactics, though, might not play
well on a narrow, twisty street course, like the
one she will have to navigate today during today's
qualifying session, which will set the starting
lineup for Saturday's 10-lap race.
"I guess I will have to do some of that
bumping on Saturday," she said with a laugh. "I
have been pretty clean in practice, but we will
have to see what happens on race day."
This whole experience, Gordon said, has been
"surreal." She's getting a chance to drive on the
same streets on which Robby finished third while
driving in the featured CART Champ Car race during
the 1994 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
While her brother drove for Toyota, she kept
pestering the Pro/Celebrity folks to give her a
chance in their extremely popular race. And finally
she's getting a chance.
But she's not just in the race. She is
considered one of the pros, so on Saturday she'll
have to beat defending NHRA Funny Car champion Tony
Pedregon and Mike Skinner, who drives in the NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series like Robby, to win her class.
"I really can't believe this. I mean to be
considered a pro
it's a huge honor," said
Gordon, who was a part of the United State national
softball team that traveled to the Barcelona
Olympic Games in 1992.
But being considered a pro is also a huge
disadvantage for her because she will be starting
30 seconds behind the celebrity field, which
includes Raymond Cruz ("The Closer), William
Fichtner ("Prison Break") and Wilmer Valderrama
("That '70s Show").
That's a lot of time to give up for someone like
Gordon, who never has done anything like this.
Still, she hasn't ruled out winning the whole
Her strategy: Keep Skinner in sight.
"If I can do that, then maybe he will make a
mistake and then who knows? I think I can find a
way to keep up with him, I will be fine," Gordon,
29, said. "But I am here to win. There's a
difference between drivers and racers. Anyone can
drive. It takes someone special to go out there and
race. And if I am racing in it, I want to win
Besides going through the Pro/Celebrity training
camp at Willow Springs International Motorsports
Park in Rosamond, she's been driving go-karts with
her boyfriend and IndyCar Series driver, Ryan
Hunter-Reay. Just like Gordon's brother,
Hunter-Reay has driven in the big race during the
Grand Prix of Long Beach, so he's given her
pointers on where to brake and shift on Long
Beach's 1.968-mile street course.
But she will have to go it alone on race day.
Hunter-Reay will be competing in the Indy Japan 300
in Motegi and her brother is in Hungary and
Romania, driving his Hummer in the Central Europe
Rally. It's a make-up event for the Dakar Rally,
which was scheduled for January but was canceled
because of terrorism concerns in Mauritania.
"Finally, I get my chance to race in Long Beach
and where are Robby and Ryan? My two biggest
sources for info this weekend will be out of town,"
But her brother is going to be there for her
this year in the Baja 500 and 1000. He's letting
All American Girl Racing use his buggy, which she
said will likely be entered in Class 1."But we keep
pushing him to let us use his Hummer," she said.
"Maybe if he brings it back in one piece from the
rally, and it's just sitting in his shop in
Anaheim, we might have a shot at racing it.
Vroom, start your
Who said men are the only ones who can go off-road
racing or enjoy motor sports?
Meet Heather Mishell Bonanni of Laguna Niguel
who not only rides, but she races competitively -
and she is pretty darn good, too. Here is a closer
look at this daredevil.
Q: Do you have a full-time job?
A: I used to work full time managing the
Mortgage Loan Servicing Call Center at Downey
Savings and Loan in Newport Beach. My husband has
since afforded me the opportunity to be what I
always wanted a stay-at-home mom.
Q: How did you become interested in racing?
A: Watching my husband race. I have always
enjoyed motor sports, and off-road racing was right
up my alley.
Q: What is the fascination with it?
A: That you can drive over the most rugged,
dangerous terrain in Mexico for hours on hours,
push your body and mind farther than they have ever
been pushed, get dirtier than your 3-yearold
playing in a pile of wet sand and mud, cross the
finish line completely exhausted and still want to
do it all over again. Not only want to do it all
over again, but cannot wait to do it all over
Q: Have you ever been hurt?
A: Yes, at the Baja 500 last year. The race was
going through the infamous pine forest and this was
my section. This section had not been raced through
in years. I was feeling like I was in the groove,
got a little too comfortable and hit head-on into a
deep rut. I broke the left front trailing arm off
the body and limped it in to the next pit where the
BFG guys welded us back together and we sent the
next girl on her way. I ended up having a
concussion that made me pretty loopy for about four
days and a compressed disc.
Q: So, you compete, how often, where and when,
and against whom?
A: I will compete with the All-American Girl
Racing team for the 2007-2017 race years starting
with the Baja 1000 in November. Our race schedule
after that is being worked out, but if all goes
well, we will complete the entire SCORE
International season, which includes the San Felipe
250 in March and the Baja 500 in June, both in
Q: Any awards, prizes, trophies, ribbons?
A: Our very first race, we took first at
SNOREs Buffalo Bills 400. We also captured
the first place trophy at SCOREs Battle at
Primm in September. Both of those races were at
Stateline (Primm, Nev.). We completed the Baja 1000
in November and are currently, that I am aware of,
the only all-female team (both drivers and
navigators in the car at all times are female) to
ever complete the Baja 1000 when it runs from
Ensenada to La Paz.
Q: Will this or could this ever become a
full-time career for you?
A: Probably not ... we do this for the sheer
excitement and the money we get from sponsorships
is barely enough to pay for the car to race. We put
a lot of our own money into it so we can continue
to do this.
Q: What type of off-road vehicle do you
A: We used to race a buggy type car. Some
compare it to a beefed-up sandrail. A
brand new car like ours last year would today run
about $100,000, at the least.
'Girlie girls' team
up to become off-road racers.
Like all serious off-road buggy racers, they needed
a sponsor, but they faced some challenges.
Big potential sponsors wanted more information.
What would they race? What kind of track record did
they have? How would they represent the
One by one, they got their rejections. But the
racers kept in touch with their contact at SoBe,
which sells vitamin-enriched water, who promised he
was working his connections. They crossed their
fingers and hoped for the best.
The call came on a Monday. "Where do I send the
They won't say how much they got, but
sponsorship in the racing world can range from
$50,000 to $1 million.
And they had a race that Saturday.
That gave them four days to prepare.
Oh, and they officially became the All-American
Girl Racing Team, an all-female team in the
male-dominated sport of off-road racing.
They had a four-wheel dune buggy, but a lot of
things stacked against them. They had no tires.
They had no toolbox. They had to borrow fire suits
"We literally did not sleep for four days. We
were zombies," says Heather Bonanni of Laguna
Niguel, a driver and founder of the group.
Would they have a shot on Saturday? Would
anybody take them seriously with their pink gas
They wear lipstick and mascara and enjoy a good
manicure. They admit with pride that they're
"girlie girls." One is a former Miss Downey.
They also go 92 mph in an off-road vehicle,
doing laps on a rough course fraught with dips and
rocky bumps. The four-wheel buggy has beefy desert
tires, big shocks and extra suspension. The women
take turns as drivers.
And, yes, they can change their own 80-pound
tires, thank you very much.
There are other women racers, such as Danica
Patrick, but she works with a team of men. These
women, who range from 28 to 34, run their own
The All-American Girl Racing Team, based in
Orange County, formed a year ago.
Bonanni said she got bored watching her husband,
"I've got to get a bunch of us out there," she
thought. She called Robyn Gordon, who paused. But
Beccy Gordon, Robyn's sister, started yelling:
"We're in! You tell her we're in!"
A friend and fellow racer, Brian Burgess,
donated his off-road vehicle for a year with the
condition that they return it in pristine
"He was just totally hip on a bunch of girls
racing. We put a brand-new engine in, brand-new
seats and had all the shocks redone. We rebuilt the
whole car," Bonanni said.
Racing is in their blood. Beccy, who lives in
Dana Point, and Robyn, who lives in Orange, grew up
in their dad's shop in Orange. Their father, Bob,
was an off-road racer who made sure his daughters
knew how to take apart an engine. He never treated
them any differently from how he treated Robby
Gordon, who grew up to be a NASCAR racer.
Their family vacations weren't typical. No
skiing trips for them. Instead, they hit the
racetracks. Beccy says as a kid she used to wear a
bathing suit and make dirt angels.
Their mom did a practice run when she was seven
months pregnant with Beccy and had Robyn sitting on
They're an athletic family. Beccy, 28, surfs,
snowboards, and plays tennis and golf. Robyn, 34,
Heather, 34, whose dad is a mechanic, also grew
up around cars. Heather was a tomboy who loved dirt
bikes and played softball and volleyball. But one
year she decided to try out for Miss Downey. She
"But then I was done with that, and I was like,
'Can I have my dirt bike back, please?' "
Heather, now a soccer mom raising four kids,
acknowledges that racing can be dangerous, and her
youngest child, who also happens to be her biggest
fan, is especially concerned.
"She worries the most about me," Heather says.
"She says a little prayer for me. She makes me kiss
her hand to leave my lip marks on her while I
She once was injured when she fell into a deep
ravine. "I was going 35 miles per hour, and one of
my harnesses was undone, and I knocked myself out
on one of the bars," she says. "I crashed and had a
concussion and was out of it for a couple of
And that isn't the only time.
"I've spun out on the pavement a couple of
times, and, knock on wood, I've never rolled. I'm
not too worried about it," she said. "If I was too
worried, I wouldn't do it. We're doing it because
we truly enjoy getting into that car and
The team has developed a loyal following of
young women and girls who help with repairs and
cheer them on.
And their Internet site has drawn interest from
girls who want to go into racing, as well as from
men whose girlfriends and wives are interested in
They had four days to prepare for the 200-mile
race in Primm, Nev. There were 100 entrants
all men, except for them.
They had to get the car painted. They were
hoping for pink. Robyn went to the shop late at
night and called the team in tears. "It's yellow!"
They got pink lizards the logo for SoBe
embroidered onto their silver racing suits.
The sponsor, who missed his wedding anniversary,
flew out so they could take him on a prerun. They
made sure to wear braids to keep their hair out of
their faces. And this time there was no makeup.
When they showed up to the race, they had an
entourage of about 50 people family members
and friends and a television crew from New York
making a documentary on them. They got noticed.
Somebody snidely remarked that they were Robby
Gordon's sisters and wondered whether they'd make
"It was a little bit embarrassing, because we
hadn't proved ourselves yet," Robyn says.
Heather was the driver at the starting line,
watching the green flag.
"I was extremely nervous," she says. "I just
remember sitting at the starting line. I was so
afraid that I was going to stall the car. I revved
the engine so high. Your adrenaline kicks in. Five
minutes into it, I got my groove. It turned out it
It turned out better than awesome.
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©1996-2017 by Gordon