An upcoming segment of “Jay Leno’s Garage” put the comedian and former “Tonight Show” host behind the wheel of an INDYCAR Experience single-seat car at Phoenix International Raceway during IndyCar test sessions with instruction from Scott Dixon, four-time IndyCar Series champion.
“I’ve driven cars with more power but not that much grip,” Leno said of the experience. “The level of grip in these is unbelievable. Doing road cars on an oval or something, you feel it start to slip, and this doesn’t move at all. It’s just planted. That’s the biggest difference, I think.”
While Leno’s speeds on track amounted to less-than-half of Dixons average speeds, this wasn’t his first time behind the wheel alongside the IndyCar series, Leno was the honorary pace car driver for the 1999 Indianapolis 500 and has ridden passenger to legendary Mario Andretti at Auto Club Speedway in a two-seater car
“He did a really good job (driving) and he’s not scared,” Dixon said of his student. “He’s really laid back, relaxed. I think for a lot of people this would be a daunting experience, but he definitely took it in stride and really seemed to enjoy it.”
Dixon said he enjoyed the experience of working with the iconic television star. “It’s great to see his passion for racing and how knowledgeable he was on the whole INDYCAR field, the drivers, and different eras,” Dixon said, adding “it was also nice just to chat about different cars, like the new Ford GT and different things.”
The drive is set to appear in an episode slated to air in July on CNBC and includes Leno on a ride-along with Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sam Schmidt in the Arrow semi-autonomous motorcar (SAM) Corvette. Designed for quadriplegics, Schmidt drives the car using his breath, voice and head movements.