Sunday, October 13, 2013
Chicago Tribune: Jeff Gordon, Ingrid Vandebosch, works by Alison Van Pelt and Matisse.
Jeff Gordon is ecstatic, bounding down the stairs of his soaring Charlotte, North Carolina, home, relaying details of how he just conquered his most challenging-and frequently traveled-road course. Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, he gives his wife, former model Ingrid Vandebosch, a high five, rattling off the details of his win, down to the corners he skimmed and the passes he executed.
After this victory dance, he turns to me, shakes my hand with a steady grip that belies his trim, 5'7″ frame and then rehashes his feat. It turns out that the 42-year-old three-time Daytona 500 champion, one of the most famous race car drivers in history, has finally figured out ... the carpool route to kindergarten.
"We've been trying to get better at it," says Gordon, who alternates with Vandebosch on the morning run in the family Suburban. "There are a few little back roads."
We're standing in the sunlit living room of Gordon's house in Charlotte's South Park neighborhood in our stocking feet ("Shoes off, please!"). His home is casually modern, the decor-monochromatic tan-and-taupe furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows-courtesy of Pembrooke & Ives. The walls are adorned with works by Alison Van Pelt and Matisse. Photographer Peter Beard is another favorite. There's a billiards room, a bar and a well-stocked wine cellar, which hosts, of course, bottles from his own label. Outside, beside the 30-foot pool, sits a thing of childhood fantasy: a nearly life-size dollhouse.
Gordon's nanny has just left to pick up his 3-year-old son, Leo, from day care. Big sister Ella, 6, will be home soon. Vandebosch, a stylish 42-year-old brunette from Belgium (by way of Paris and New York), checks on the chef in the couple's cavernous kitchen, where he's casually mixing greens for lunch.
In the middle of this idyllic scene is Gordon. He seems, at the moment, to be a very content stay-at-home dad-albeit one who happens to be a NASCAR legend whose 87 wins are the most of any driver in the sport's modern era.