Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage truly ponied up Friday when it came to farewell gifts for retiring four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who makes his final start at Texas Motor Speedway in Sunday's AAA Texas 500.
Gossage, ever the promoter, presented Gordon with perhaps the most unique gifts the NASCAR icon has received throughout the season with the personal delivery of a pair of Shetland ponies to the speedway media center for his children, eight-year-old Ella and five-year-old Leo, to help their dad ride off into the sunset.
Gossage, sporting a cowboy hat and bandana, stepped out of the building during his presentation of gifts with Gordon and stunned him by leading a pair of Shetland ponies into the media center for his final gift. Gossage presented him with "Scout," a 300-pound black-and-white paint pony, and "Smoky," a 400-pound dapple-colored one.
"Are you out of your mind? Are you out of your mind?," Gordon said. "Oh, my God, Eddie ... you have no idea what you just did to me."
"Yes I do," Gossage said.
"You have lost it. ... Oh, my God," Gordon said. "Eddie you are unbelievable. You are unbelievable. Oh my God. ... These are going to look good in my backyard in Charlotte."
Gossage also made sure that he provided Gordon with a few personal gifts for himself. Gordon received custom-made Luskey's black cowboy boots that featured his No. 24 and signature as well as Texas Motor Speedway logo on each, a mini Gordon Rd. street sign that is a replica of the one on property honoring him and a commissioned mural artwork piece depicting his 2009 win at Texas by renowned sports artist David Arrigo.
"With all due respect to drivers like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jeff is perhaps the most important driver in NACAR history," Gossage said. "He was the most transformative driver our sport has seen. He won races and championships while changing the perception of people around the globe about NASCAR race car drivers. He successfully guest hosted shows like 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' introducing a whole new audience to racing. It's no coincidence our sport enjoyed unprecedented growth during his prime years. Jeff is a champion in every way."
The artwork was part of a five-canvas "Live Mural Experience" in which Arrigo has been touring the DFW Metroplex and painting among the public day and evening since Monday. He was set up in the media center and had Gordon assist him in painting portions of each canvas during the press conference. Arrigo will finish painting the mural Sunday, situated on the ballfield grass in front of the starting grid during AAA Texas 500 pre-race activities. The other four paintings from the mural will be donated to Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter to be auctioned off at a later date.
Gordon's final start at Texas Motor Speedway comes in Sunday's AAA Texas 500, which begins at 1 p.m. CT. Tickets are available by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500.