CONCORD, N.C. – In a long NASCAR season, off-weekends are a precious commodity. Jeff Gordon used his to go back to where it all began.

The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS headed to Northern California for a “homecoming tour” that included a stop at the quarter-midget track where his racing career began, and even a visit to his middle school in Vallejo, California.

The trip to Roy Hayer Memorial Speedway in Rio Linda, California, featured a tour of the 61-year-old facility, a visit with young racers and involvement in pre-race festivities.

“Rio Linda was the first place that I ever drove a race car on the track, and I won a lot of races there and made a lot of friends. I don’t know what life would be like for me today if it weren’t for Rio Linda,” Gordon said. “It’s great to see that the kids are still out there today. It’s such a great sport.”

At his former middle school, Gordon was greeted by nearly 200 students and their families before the driver took part in a question-and-answer session about growing up in Vallejo.

He was presented with gifts at the school, and June 20, 2015, was proclaimed “Jeff Gordon Day” in Vallejo.

“Just walking through the halls and around this campus brings back a lot of memories and a lot of friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. In fact, I remember break dancing in one of these halls,” Gordon smiled. “It’s been phenomenal.”

To check out photos from Gordon’s homecoming tour, click here.