Tina Gordon shares a
special moment with Buck, a foal born at Tina’s Dream Ranch the night
before Mother’s Day 2007.
Tina Gordon Now Dedicated to Helping Others
By Suzy Lowry Geno
it was racing cars in the ARCA and then the NASCAR circuits or, years
earlier, rodeoing, competing in barrel racing or horse shows, Tina Gordon
was never happy unless she came out the winner.
was not even an adequate enough word to describe her, numerous magazine
and newspaper articles concluded, like the written by Neal Sims in the
RACING MILESTONES magazine article, "Driven to Succeed."
office at Tina and Gary Gordon’s Cedar Bluff home and businesses bears
witness to her success: the walls are lined with framed copies of her
front-page spreads on numerous racing and sports magazines.
it doesn’t surprise any of her friends, fans and family the petite
blonde has not simply rested on her laurels since retiring from the NASCAR
racing circuit following the 2005 series.
she continues with her wonderful relationship as the spokeswoman for the
Sticks N Stuff furniture chain (who were also one of her sponsors during
her racing career) on their many TV commercials, Tina is combining her
love for horses and her love for children by sponsoring therapeutic riding
camps for mentally and physically challenged children.
probably the thing most folks don’t know about Tina," husband Gary
explained. "She’ll do anything to help children, and animals as
a matter of fact, her love for children and her love for her own son,
Seth, now 16, is the primary reason Tina left the hurried and harried
world of racing.
Tina and Gary Gordon plan
to open their Cedar Bluff ranch to kids with special needs beginning the
Spring of 2008.
Tina and one of the
trucks she raced in.
just wanted to spend more time at home with him," she stated. (Family
in the Cedar Bluff area also includes her twin sister, Rena, and her
one-year-old daughter, Demie Jo).
Tina is proud of her careers thus far. She loved the rodeo circuit, and
then continued her drive to success by owning the Allstate Insurance
Agency in Cedar Bluff for three years.
her professional life took a major side trip when she drove Gary’s
short-track car in 1995 and 1996 at Green Valley Speedway in Gadsden,
making her way to the winner’s circle in all six races.
was hooked," she said laughing.
following year, Gary and Tina bought another car and of the 18 starts
during her rookie season in 1997 at the Men’s Hobby Divison at Thunder
Mountain Speedway in Fyffe, Tina had six top-five finishes, 11 top-ten
finishes and finished 10th in overall points.
sold her insurance agency and began racing full time at Green Valley
before moving to the Birmingham International Raceway on June 12, 1998.
1999 and 2000, she raced trucks in the NASCAR All-Pro Series, full time on
tracks in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Florida, finishing
20th in overall points.
made her Busch Series debut September 2001 at Darlington.
scored her first top-ten in the Busch Series in Talladega in April of
career continued to improve and on May 18, 2002, she qualified 16th (with
a speed of 174.115 mph) in the 100 ARCA/Remax Race at Charlotte, a prelude
to "The Winston." She was making her move, from the 13th spot
trying for the 12th position when a crash left her with serious leg and
one was surprised when she was soon back racing again.
kind of like riding that horse and when you fall off, you’ve got to get
back on it," Tina said then.
in 2005, following 10 years of success, Tina said she just made the
decision to stay home with her family.
Tina and Pepper, one of the
Quarter Horses that will be featured in her family’s farm’s
therapeutic camps beginning the Spring of 2008.
was so involved in all sports and he was getting older so fast that I
really wanted to spend more time with him," she explained.
played with a statewide youth baseball league that attended —- and won
—- its division World Series in Las Vegas. He remained active in
baseball, football and basketball until this fall when an injury during
the Cedar Bluff Tigers’ second football game left him with three major
breaks in his leg.
Tina’s love for children and animals is unlimited. These are two of the
eight dogs who were rescued and are currently living on her ranch.
has undoubtedly inherited his parents’ drive to succeed as his leg has
been removed from the cast earlier than doctors anticipated and he’s
already been cleared to play baseball! Whether or not he’ll later be
cleared to return to football will be decided later in the spring.
just been so blessed," Tina said about her life overall, as she sat
recently surrounded by two of the eight "rescued" dogs currently
in residence at Tina’s Dream Ranch.
I left racing, I started getting back into horses," Tina explained.
ranch now includes eight horses: a three-year-old, Pepper, which is her
special horse to ride; Skipper, a Palomino who, at 16, is the same age as
Seth and is his horse; and Blaze, the mother of Buck, a six-month-old colt
Tina had just weaned at the time of this article.
always be here," Tina said of Buck. She’d missed many nights of
sleep, traveling the short distance from the family home to their
six-stall newer barn, but Blaze didn’t seem to be in labor. She finally
wound up sleeping in the barn each night, afraid she’d miss the
night before Mother’s Day, the family went out to eat and Tina feared
they’d been gone to long.
told Gary to not even stop at the house, to just drive me straight to the
barn," Tina explained. Buck was born a short time later and has
proven to be the family’s pet.
also Bubba, a gentle 25-year-old Appaloosa which was a gift from John
Croyle and his Big Oak Boy’s Ranch, with Croyle knowing Bubba would be
just perfect to carry some of the children Tina hopes to help.
and Gary said the first day-long event for the special kids should begin
in April, and will proceed monthly, and possibly more often, if demand
continues. Tina also noted how successful such therapy has been in the
lives of so many children.
want to serve kids in the Cherokee, Etowah and nearby county areas,"
Tina stated. "We already have a group of children with autism who
plan to be here."
Tina has the "heart" for the businesses, Gary has the
"business brains," Tina explained, searching out sponsors for
the Dream Ranch activities just as he did for her racing endeavors. That’s
in addition to Gary running two businesses from the ranch as well: the
Extermco Pest Control business and a home improvement division of Extermco.
has also recently completed a small pond on the ten acres to be used for
the kids’ activities, in hopes of having fishing available for the
youngsters as well.
rains filled the pond in November, but the drought has hit the little
been feeding hay all year round," Tina said, "And we’re having
to buy it all."
Tina and Gary say the folks at the Cherokee Farmer’s Cooperative
"couldn’t be more helpful," feed and other horse essentials
add up quickly.
who "sponsor" a particular horse for a year financially get a
plaque and are invited to share in the ranch’s activities.
are also needed to help with horse care, leading the horses while the
children ride them, among other duties, on the upcoming activity days.
Ranch is sponsoring trail rides and other events as fund raisers for the
upcoming events for special children as well, because there will be NO
CHARGE for any of the special needs children who participate.
additional fund raisers, Tina hopes to have camps for children who do not
have special needs as well.
on volunteering, the camps, trail rides and more will be frequently
updated on the Ranch’s website, www.tinasdreamranch.com, or
folks needing more information may call Gary on his cell phone at
the Gordon family’s record, both on and off the race track, you can bet
the special children who participate in the riding camps will be winners
Suzy Lowry Geno is a
freelance writer from Blount County.