NASCAR: Gordon excited about fatherhood

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 22, 2006

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — Jeff Gordon insists he won’t trade his Ferrari for a family-friendly vehicle any time soon. That doesn’t mean NASCAR’s four-time champion isn’t thrilled about becoming a father.

“I’m not getting a minivan,” Gordon vowed Thursday. “I’ll never get rid of my toys.”

Maybe not, but chances are Gordon’s future purchases might consist of more matchbox cars than stock cars.

NASCAR’s most marketable driver is shifting gears, eagerly preparing for fatherhood with new bride Ingrid Vandebosch. The pair announced Wednesday their first child is due in July.

“I met Ingrid and I fell in love with her a long time ago, and we don’t do things the traditional way,” he told The Associated Press. “She’s 36, I’m 35, and we got engaged and wanted to start a family right then and there.

“It was a wonderful surprise and a wonderful way to start our marriage off.”

Gordon announced his engagement to the Belgian model on June 24 at Infineon Raceway, then won the race there the next day. The two were married in a private ceremony Nov. 7 in Mexico.

“We had the sonogram and we saw the baby and we were just so thrilled that we began sending messages right away,” Gordon said. “Then I said, `Uh-oh, we better make this official before it leaks out.”‘

Gordon said they plan to learn whether it’ll be a girl or a boy next month.

He also said the notion that he didn’t want children — a perception that circulated during the highly publicized 2002 divorce from his first wife — was never true.

“I believe everything happens for a reason, and it’s really a blessing, quite a gift to be able to experience this with Ingrid,” he said. “I can’t wait to be a father, and I expect it to be one of the most difficult jobs that I will ever have.

“But I always wanted it — just at the right time in my life and with the right person. It never had anything to do with me not wanting children.”