Jeff Gordon came to NASCAR just as the sport was about to move out of its roots in the Southeast and go global. The non-Southerner who smiled and embraced the media, he hosted "Saturday Night Live" and "Live with Regis and Kelly," became the favorite driver of millions of fans, including many new to the sport, and the most hated driver to many traditionalists. He traveled around the world, visited the White House and became a driver who was instantly recognizable with his helmet off. And as he prepares for retirement at the end of this season, his influence can be seen among dozens of young drivers who followed his path to NASCAR, coming from California, Indiana, Connecticut or other non-traditional stock car territories and driving in tiny sprint cars on dirt tracks to get experience when they are as young as 5 years old. Included are stories from Gordon's early days and the drivers he battled and influenced, landmarks during the prime of his championship career, and reactions to his retirement from around the sports world.