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Tina Gordon  

Tina Gordon is a driver whose star is truly on the rise.

In just seven years, Tina has climbed from the short tracks of east central Alabama to the fast tracks at Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta and Charlotte and been successful at every stop along the way. Tina first came to the full attention of the national racing community in October 2001 when she drove a Ford Thunderbird prepared by Mark Thompson and his Midway Phoenix Racing team for the Food World 300 ARCA/Remax Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.Her first time out on the 2.66-mile superspeedway, Gordon qualified fifth with a speed of 182.947 mph, finished 10th and impressed many on both the ARCA and NASCAR circuits with her driving ability.The 2002 season began with a strong run in the 39th Annual Discount Auto Parts 3000 ARCA/Remax race at Daytona International Speedway in Feburary.

Tina qualified ninth for her first race on the storied track (182.043 mph) and ran as high as second before a bad break left her in 26th place. Tina pitted on lap 52 and was making her way back through the field when heavy rain hit and eventually shortened the race to 54 laps.Next, it was on to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Pork, The Other White Meat 400 and another strong showing on the ARCA circuit. Tina qualified 10th on the 1.5-mile superspeedway (184.591 mph), ran as high as third on the day before blowing and engine and finishing eighth when the race was red flagged because of rain.Next, Tina traveled to Charlotte for the EasyCare 100 ARCA/Remax race, a prelude to NASCAR's "The Winston" All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 18, 2002.

Tina qualified 16th for the race (174.115 mph), but piston problems forced her crew to change engines on Friday and dropped her to the rear of the field where she started 41st. She was working her way through the pack when misfortune struck on the 41st lap of the 67-lap event.Having climbed to 13th spot, Tina was trying to make a pass for 12th position when she was involved in a crash and suffered serious leg and foot injuries. A rapid recovery has Tina pointing to a September return to racing and a continued pursuit of her ultimate goal of reaching the Winston Cup circuit."It's kind of like riding that horse and when you fall off you've got to get back on it," Gordon said. "That's really crucial in my career right now. I've got to get back in that car and drive, not just to prove to myself or to anybody. This is just something that I want to do.

"I still want to race cars and make a career out of it. I still want to go to Winston Cup."Tina began pursuing racing as a career after driving for fun in five powder puff races at Green Valley Speedway in Gadsden, Ala., in 1995 and 1996. Driving her husband Gary's short-track car, Tina won all five of those races and she was hooked.In the winter of 1996, Tina and Gary bought a car so she could compete in the Men's Hobby Division at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Fyffe, Ala., and it would prove to be a wise decision. In 18 starts in her rookie season of 1997, Tina had six top 5 finishes, 11 top 10 finishes and finished 10th in points.

In 1998, Tina became a full-time competitor in the Hobby Division at Green Valley Raceway and was tearing up the circuit - three wins, a second and a third in six races - when she made a monumental decision to turn her attention to asphalt racing.

Tina and Gary bought a Pontiac Grand Prix super late-model car and moved to Birmingham International Speedway where she competed in her first asphalt race on June 12, 1998, on the same track where racing legends Bobby, Donnie and Davey Allison and Neil Bonnett began their racing careers.Tina ran the NASCAR All-Pro Series full-time in 1999 and 2000 and raced on tracks in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Florida, including Homestead-Miami Speedway. She finished 20th in points both seasons.In 2001, Tina ran a Southern All-Star race, made one lap in a Busch Series race at Darlington and ran the ARCA race at Talladega.

Tina also has experience driving for the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Talladega Superspeedway.Tina is 33 years old and she lives in Cedar Bluff, Ala., with her family, which includes 10-year-old son Seth, a rising star in his own right on the youth baseball circuit. She is the daughter of the late Eugene and Virginia Walsh of Centre, Ala.. She has two bothers and two sisters, including a twin sister, Rena.She is a 1987 graduate of Armuchee, Ga., High School and before turning to racing full-time, owned her own All-State Insurance agency for three years.

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