Reporters, particularly those who still have jobs at newspapers, have a well-deserved reputation for two defining personal characteristics: Barely making ends meet and having a gallows sense of humor. Laughter, after all, is a necessary trait for self-preservation in an industry that's rapidly self-destructing.
So when the NASCAR media decided to say thank you to Jeff Gordon for being a class act to deal with over his entire career, lavish gifts were out. No ponies for his kids, like Texas Motor Speedway gave him last week, no large donations to his foundation. Those would have been nice, mind you, but just not possible.
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Instead, they gave him what for Gordon might be the ultimate gag gift, but one presented with admiration and respect: A trophy from Kentucky Speedway, the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track where Gordon has never won.
Saturday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, Gordon was given the Kentucky trophy by Kenny Bruce of NASCAR.com, Mike Hembree of USA Today and a larger throng of reporters and photographers.
Fortunately, Gordon laughed, knowing it was all in good fun, and knowing that the folks in the NASCAR media truly appreciate his professionalism, accessibility and cooperation.
Oh, and about the two ponies Gordon got last week?
They will be heading back east at some point, especially after Gordon's wife, Ingrid, and children, Ella and Leo, saw them last week in Texas.
"Ingrid and the kids got there (Texas) the next day and we immediately went out to the stables where they were at and visited with them," Gordon said. "And of course, immediately, my daughter fell in love. They were the cutest things and we had a lot of fun with them.
"Ever since then and right after they were given to us, we were trying to figure out how to get them to North Carolina, where to put them, who is going to take care of them, how often we were going to visit with them. That's where we are at right now."