ORANGE (CBSLA.com/AP) — Former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon expressed disbelief Thursday as police investigated the deaths of his father and stepmother, whose bodies were found inside their Southern California home.
“I’m so sad and I can’t believe it,” the racing star told reporters near the gated house in the city of Orange where police discovered the bodies Wednesday after receiving a 911 call.
“I’d like everybody to understand that this is very, very tough,” Gordon said, his voice cracking. “It’s not only tough for me, but for my sister Robin, Beccy, and my sister which is Sharon’s daughter, Haley.”
Lt. Fred Lopez said a rifle was found at the scene, and investigators do not believe a suspect is at large.
The Orange County coroner’s office identified the deceased as Robert Gordon, 68, and Sharon Gordon, 57. Their bodies were found Wednesday night. Robert Gordon died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Thursday afternoon, while Sharon Gordon was strangled.
The younger Gordon races in an off-road series he created in 2013 called Speed Energy Formula Off-Road, following the path of his father. Known as “Baja Bob,” Robert Gordon was also an accomplished off-road racer.
Robby Gordon said his father instilled in him a passion for motorsports and competition.
“He taught me at a young age that 1 horsepower wasn’t going to be enough,” Gordon said.
Neighbor Jill Dombroske said the Gordons were longtime residents of the quiet neighborhood where large homes sit on expansive hillside properties and many people own horses. Residents were out Thursday morning walking and riding horses on dirt trails that run along the winding hillside roads.
“I feel very sad,” she said. “Everyone here will be very sad.”
Another neighbor, Greg Saunders, said everyone in the area knew the family. He said Robert Gordon had a horse feed business and would regularly drop hay off at neighbors’ homes.
“He’s a very nice, down to earth guy. He has his truck and he delivers personally,” Saunders said.
Police in the city about 30 miles (48.3 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles said the cause of the deaths had not been determined. The deceased were married and autopsies were pending as part of the ongoing investigation, Lopez said.
Robby Gordon said he would speak about the deaths again once authorities conclude their investigation.
“The truth will come out, what went down here,” he said.
The former NASCAR star thanked the racing and the horse-raising communities for their support.
Racer Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has won multiple NASCAR championships, tweeted that he was praying for the Gordon family. “Hope they find strength and support,” he said.
“Heartbreaking news this morning. Thinking of the Gordon family and friends,” NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson said on Twitter.
Gordon, 47, has raced on numerous racing circuits, from NASCAR to IndyCar to Champ Car and IROC.
Known for his aggressive style, he earned three wins in parts of 19 seasons in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He was a full-time driver early last decade and finished a career-high 16th in the points standings in 2003 driving for Richard Childress Racing. Gordon last raced in the Sprint Cup in 2012.
Gordon is one of only four drivers, joining John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch, to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He nearly won the 1999 Indy 500 before running out of fuel in the closing laps.
Gordon said an event featuring his off-road racing team scheduled for this weekend in Orange County will go on as planned.
Gordon’s sister, Beccy, is married to 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. The driver tweeted Wednesday that his wife had given birth to a boy. Hunter-Reay would appear as scheduled in a weekend race in Sonoma County, Gordon said.
Anyone with information about this case has been urged to contact the Orange Police Department at (714) 744-7444.
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