Three years ago, Leo Newland (former South Central Region V.P.) led the movement to have the Club launch its own website. A then self-employed engineer with "a bunch of degrees," Gordon submitted a bid, and, along with Leo, put together a comprehensive, easy-to-update, bread-and-butter site that gives everyone with a computer access to a dizzying variety of Club and BMW-related information and events.
Gordon's first car was of the British persuasion: a `64 MGB. By the time he got married and moved to California, he was tooling around in a `67 Firebird. After one year, 10,000 miles, and nine miles to the gallon, the original wide-tread Goodyears were shot-and not, he swears, from aggressive driving.
A friend had a BMW 1600 that he took occasional rides in. David E. Davis' famous "Turn your hymnals..." column caught Gordon's attention. The next step was inevitable.
In late 1967, at Ocean View Motors in Santa Monica, Gordon put down a deposit on a 2002. One year later, the first ship ment came in. There were two cars: one black and one yellow. He passed. The next shipment contained a red 2002 with a factory sunroof: Sold.
That was Gordon's daily driver until, after moving to Colorado a few years later, it received a major hit from a drunk driver and he allowed the insurance company to total it. "I didn't know any better then," he says. I really should have kept it for an SCCA ITB car."
His grief may have allowed the practical side of his brain to dominate, as he bought a Volvo which he drove for the next seventeen years. Then BMW fever came on him again, and he ordered a 633CSi for European delivery. "It was great. We got the factory tour and spent time touring the Alps. When I got back, we decided to look up the local chapter of BMW CCA. We joined in the fall of '83. Unfortunately, it was right after the terrific Oktobetfest held (in our home state of Colorado) that year."
A turning point came in 1989, when Gordon ordered a 325iX for his wife, Bev. He liked her iX so much that he sold the 633, ordered an E36 M3, anticipating early on, that BMW NA would import this model (the deposit check was written in December of 1991; delivery would come in mid-1994 !) He then bought an '88 iX for himself, which led to a deepening involvement with the BMW world.
"I founded the iX Registry. It was a natural outgrowth of the car and the Club," he explains. "In 1993, I wrote an article (BMW4X4 vs. 4X4BMW) for the October, '93, issue of the Roundel about Bev's iX and mine, comparing the two cars. That got the Registry started with about twenty other owners in Colorado. We now have 220 members (now over 300), mostly from the northern U.S., but also from Canada; the west coast, ranging from Northern California into Washington; and even Hawaii- one of our members uses his iX to go out on the beach and surf! One racer, Ray (and wife Mary) LaRue, has used his as a tow car for his spec racer, and his iX has well over 150,000 miles on it."
The iXchange newsletter contains about 2/3 material contributed by members and about 1/3 written by Gordon. There also is an iX FAQ section on the Club's website.
"The iX is a perfect Colorado car. It can't go off-road because of fairly low ground clearance, but it's meant to be driven here year-round. The M3 stays tucked away when the weather's not good, and that's when the iX says, 'Great! Let's go play on these slippery roads!' It's just plain fun to drive."
Gordon is no slouch behind the wheel. He had an SCCA Amatuer and Pro racing license and frequenfly rented or shared friends' race cars for competitive events. He and Gregg Ten Eyck teamed up to take advantage of their Club licenses and move on in motor sports, with Gregg renewing his ITC license while Gordon took aim at his SCCA Pro license. They shared the same Datsun to run in both ITC and GT class, switching parts and doors back and forth between races. Gordon also ran ITA in Bill Schaefer's 2002tii.
Gordon's goal was to run in the SCCA Escort World Challenge series with Co Van Herwaarden in Co's E30 M3. (That car, like many sold by the importer for racing use, has a checkered history. It was one of BMW NA's test cars, damaged during a Club member's overly exuberant test drive on Loveland Pass, Colorado, at O'fest '89.) At a subsequent Sears Point three-hour enduro, Co and Gordon finished third in their class. "I'm retired now," he explains, "but not over the hill."
Driving your own car hard and seeing someone else driving off in it to do the same are two entirely different things. Gordon brought his iX to O'fest '93 for the driving school at Sears Point. The school's chief steward asked Gordon if he'd mind if racer Derek Bell took the car out for a few laps. Gordon mumbled, "Sure," thinking to himself, "Well, hey, yeah, Iguess.. .but I do need it back intact so I can drive home to Colorado." Then he watched as Bell and the steward jumped in and screamed around the course. When they came back to the pits, the steward jumped out and Gordon (aka "Mr. Smooth" as an instructor at the Rocky Mt. Chapter Driving Schools) jumped in for a go. "What a treat!" he recalls. "It wasn't anything like I thought it was going to be. It was like he was testing the limits of the car the entire time. He was driving my iX on the verge of violence--not at all smooth, as we're taught to be. We were constantly going over the limits and then coming back. I guess he was testing the AWD after driving Audis. I'll never forget that ride."
Improving the quality of driver school training is a concern for Gordon. "It's difficult to get people properly trained to handle the higher-powered cars properly, students and instructors alike. The cars are so good now, with excellent suspensions and sticky tires. People don't approach the limits of adhesion slowly enough. Among other things, we need better skid-pad training."
For Gordon, like many of us, the cars are just one reason for being a part of the BMW CCA. "I've met my best friends through the Club. It's one thing to get acquainted through work, but it's not the same as this. There's such a variety of people in the Club. So many occupations and interests. But we all share a common bond."