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Max Gordon The newest Gordon to get into a race car is coming up fast Story by Stuart Bourdon Photography: Jack Wright and courtesy Max and Robby Gordon One of the fastest and brightest rising stars in off-road racing during the 1980s was none other than Robby Gordon. Starting at a young age, his career quickly shot skyward with big wins in major events such as the SCORE Baja 1000 and numerous other off-road races of the era. He has continued to have a successful career in off-road racing as well as in many other forms of motorsports; and has been instrumental in the design and engineering of some factory UTVs on the market, as well as creating an exciting new line of his own that debuted in early 2020. Although Robby was at one time one of SCORE’s youngest racers, his son Max Gordon is quickly following his father behind the wheel. At age 12, Max already has some history driving fast cars. “Max has been in cars since he was about a year-and-a-half old,” said Robby. “He went up through the ranks, driving a few Polaris cars, Trophy Karts, and a bunch of other UTVs during the last five years. He’s even raced Stadium Super Trucks at Road America this year (2020) and finished fourth.” Max chimed in about what made him decide to get serious about racing at such a young age. “My dad had a little buggy he built a long time ago and I started driving that in the parking lot, doing street jumps, and just driving in the dirt out back of the shop. That’s what really made me want to get into doing all this.” Going Pro His first time behind the wheel in a pro-level off-road race came very early too. Max was 8 years old at the time, and looking back at the experience, Max said it changed his ideas on driving competitively. “My first race felt different. It wasn’t like driving a UTV around the block, because you have all these other people that have done it longer and they know how to drive. But when I got out there, my mind just changed, and I didn’t think about that. I didn’t think about all the other people, just about what I was doing.” As he progressed, Max would go with his dad to Baja and watch him race, and soon, wanted to be in the driver’s seat. For most, competing in a race like the SCORE Baja 1000 is an extraordinary challenge that not many take on and even fewer finish. Nevertheless, at age 9, Max wanted the experience, and in doing so, drove in a UTV class to set a record for youngest person to finish the SCORE Baja 1000. “He finished the 2017 (50th Anniversary of the SCORE Baja 1000), driving about a third of the way,” said Robby. “After that, the minimum age was raised by SCORE. We set a new standard because there really wasn’t a rule for an age in the UTV classes. I finished the Trophy Truck race and went back to Bahia de Los Angeles and got in the car with him to ride to the finish. That was one of the stipulations. SCORE wanted me in the car with him, and I thought it was a good decision.” The SCORE Baja 1000 isn’t the only pro-level off-road race Max has raced and finished. “My first desert race was in 2016 driving a UTV, we did pretty good,” said Max. According to Robby, he started from 52nd place off-the-line, and finished 21st overall and 11th in his class. In other state-side off-road races, Max was first to finish in the UTV class, third in class at another, and he qualified fourth in the UTV Nationals in Lake Havasu. “We had the fastest lap of anybody there, including the Turbo cars,” said Max. “But we ended up breaking on lap four, and we were in the lead.” Pro Tips When your dad is one of the best off-road racers in the world, it’s natural that his advice is some of the best for an up and coming racer. “When he rides with me, he points out things like making sure to stay on top of the ruts by putting the tires outside of them so the ride is smoother and you have more room to bottom out,” says Max. “I learn the most when he rides with me. He’s teaching me when to accelerate and when to brake. Or, if the guy in front of us is slow and doesn’t move, how to get ‘under’ him. (Robby laughed).” Although Max has already gained lots of experience racing in a variety of venues, there is one race that he loved the most. “It’s definitely the SCORE Baja 1000 that my dad and I finished together,” said Max. Robby added, “We finished the next day in the evening. It was a long adventure for him, but I think it was one of the greatest experiences. He drove the SCORE Baja 1000 and finished the course.” Future Max Max Gordon’s long-range plans and where he wants to go with his racing are lofty, but even at his age they somehow seem attainable for the scion of a talented race driver. In a determined and excited voice, Max said, “In five years or so I want to be driving a SCORE Trophy Truck, but eventually I want to drive Formula 1 car,” he said. It’s obvious Max Gordon has goals and talent, and SCORE fans won’t be surprised at all if someday soon, he’ll be co-driving with his dad to win a SCORE race, then hop on a plane to pilot an F1 car. For the immediate future, we’ll definitely see Robby at the 53rd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, where Max could get his first ride in the “Unicorn” SCORE Trophy Truck. “We’ll be down for the SCORE Baja 1000, and potentially put Max in (riding) for a certain number of miles for his first race in the Trophy Truck,” said Robby. Needless to say, Max has already been in the truck during testing and enjoyed it. “The best part of being in the Trophy Truck was being scared most of the time,” said Max. “But pretty much, I like just going fast!” (Robby laughs).

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