Daytona 500: Jay Leno - GM Racing media visit

JAY LENO PRESS CONFERENCE - DRIVER OF THE CORVETTE Z06 PACE CAR FOR THE DAYTONA 500 OPENING REMARKS: Brent Dewar, Vice President GM Sales and Advertising Introductions: John Middlebrook, Vice President GM Global Marketing and Advertising, Ed ...


Brent Dewar, Vice President GM Sales and Advertising Introductions: John Middlebrook, Vice President GM Global Marketing and Advertising, Ed Peper, General Manager Chevrolet

BRENT DEWAR - "On Friday night we kicked off the GM FlexFuel 250. We talked about the ethanol vehicles, FlexFuel capable vehicles. President Bush has talked about reducing the dependence on foreign oil. This is a great program. We have 1.5 million FlexFuel vehicles with another 400,000 in production. The whole ethanol play and what it does for performance is pretty exciting. That is what we did on Friday night. We plan to have Dennis Setzer racing the E85 FlexFuel truck all season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and draw awareness for the program."

JAY LENO: "This is my second time driving the pace car so it is pretty exciting. It is fun going into the 33 degree banking, you don't get to do that in real life unless you are going off the road. So I have had to go 'Oh ah 33', then I have gone 180 and flipped over. This is the only time you get to go 33 and come back again.

"I love the Corvette Z06 with its 505 horsepower. Actually, I believe this is the first time in history of the race when the pace car has more horsepower than the actual race cars. So I could theoretically blow them into the weeds.

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE YESTERDAY IN PRACTICING TO PACE THE FIELD? "It was a lot of fun. I think we got up to about 145 - 150 mph. It is kind of cool to be lapping at those speeds with the air conditioning on and the satellite radio playing. I don't think the real guys get to do that.

"Race car driving is a little like sex. All men think they are good at it. So when you are out there by yourself, you actually are good at it until somebody else comes on the track. Hey, don't take anything from that. You know what I am saying. Then you have other people on the track that is why I have great respect for these race drivers. When I was a kid, I read that Sterling Moss could read a newspaper from 20 feet. Think about that that is pretty good. "A lot of times, people who don't know cars don't really look at race car drivers as athletes. You don't really realize how good they are until you get out there. They are only an inch or two apart and going almost 200 miles an hour. They don't realize how much split second dexterity there is required. It is pretty cool.

"It is fun to meet the drivers and hang out with them because I consider myself just kind of a car guy who won the lottery a little bit. I think I am doing what every fan would do if they could afford it."

HOW DOES NASCAR COMPARE TO THE IRL IN YOUR OPINION? "I am a big fan of all kinds of racing really. To me, the exciting part is walking through the pits and looking in the garages. I am not much for sitting in the stands and watching the race actually. I watch a few minutes and then I go back in. I tend to be involved more in the technical aspect of it. That is what I like actually."

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL CAR COLLECTION UP TO NOW? "You sound like my wife. I have about 80 cars. It is getting a little silly. Some are extremely valuable and some are silly cars that I like. I have a bunch of Corvettes; I am a big fan of those. I am a big fan of the American stuff. That is what I like. I mean, I live here. There aren't a lot of Chinese people or Korean people that laugh at my jokes. I tend to buy the cars of the people who watch my show. It works out pretty good actually.

"I am a huge fan of the Z06. I think it is the greatest performance sports car really in the world. There is no other car, there is no other super car, at least sold in America that has this kind of power that doesn't pay gas-guzzler tax. Corvette is the only car there is no gas-guzzler tax on it. Lamborghini can't do it; Ferrari can't do it, MG, Porsche. None of them can put out this kind of performance and this kind of mileage. I don't see them getting any credit for that and that is too bad because I think that is a real step forward.

HAVE YOU DONE ANY BUMP DRAFTING IN NEW YORK OR LOS ANGELES? "No, not really. I think Earnhardt tagged me once years ago in traffic. And I was annoyed but other than that, No."

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT BECOMING INVOLVED AS A CAR OWNER? "No, not really. That is a real expensive hobby. I have a big hole that I throw money in now. I do a lot of car restoration, which is what I enjoy doing. I admire guys that do it, but I am working so much, I don't get a chance to go to the races. One of the guys in my shop has a car that I sponsor, but that is pretty small-time. "

DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN DRIVER YOU CONSIDER YOUR FAVORITE? "No, I like it all. I find it all pretty interesting. Jeff Gordon has been a frequent guest on the show; I like Jeff and Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. All Chevy guys. What are the odds of that?

"I do it because I like it. I don't get any money from Chevy. It is fun. You know the first time they asked me if I wanted to drive the pace car, they asked me what it would cost to get me there. And I said 'Huh, a plane ticket?'. I don't have an agent or a manager either and I am not good at negotiating these things. To me, it is just the excitement of being able to do this. It is a lot of fun, it is great."

DO YOU DO ANY AMATEUR RACING? Amateur racing? Just on Mulholland Drive out in Los Angeles. But nothing I can talk about. I did have the privilege of being the oldest car stopped on an LA freeway for speeding. I drive my 1906 Stanley Steamer Vanderbilt Cup racer and the cop pulled me over, I was doing 75 mph. He said 'What year is this car?'. I said it was an '06 and he told me 'Don't be a smart ass.' I said it is a 1906 not a 2006. He said 1906? He said show me the paper. So he looked at it and then said take it easy."

YOU ARE DRIVING THE PACE CAR BUT THE DAYTONA 500 WINNER WILL BE ON YOUR LATE NIGHT RIVAL SHOW, WHO IS GETTING THE BETTER DEAL HERE? "I don't worry about that, it is all fine. Whatever that is, that is cool. Whatever helps the sport is great. You won't see me complaining about that, I will tell you that."

DO YOU OWN A NEW Z06? "I have a new Z06 coming, I like the new one. I have a 2002 Z06 that we have upgraded a bit. It has about 600 horsepower. It goes pretty good. That is another thing that is kind of cool about the Corvette that you can't do with a lot of the other super cars. It is interesting, whenever you watch these tuner shows, like the Car and Driver thing. The cars that show up and win are the Corvettes and the Porsches. Lamborghini, Ferrari, they break. This is a Chevy, you fix it with a hammer. You take it, beat the hell out of it, when it breaks, you can fix it. In the truest sense of a backyard mechanic kind of way there is a relationship with these cars that you don't really get with a lot of the other super cars. I always here the Ferrari guys brag about how few miles they have on their cars - it is a '95 and it only has 800 miles. Well, good for you, I guess that is great, I don't quite get the point of that. "

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DANICA PATRICK IN INDY CAR RACING? "I think it is great, anything that brings attention to the sport. I think that is good. I love hearing the guys bitch about her, like she only weighs 100 lbs that is cheating. That is great. I think it is terrific. My wife is a big women's rights person. She is involved in all these things like the women in Afghanistan and other things, which I think is great. So to see Danica, I think is just good because I think it brings more people into the sport and ultimately think it helps the sport. I think she is a very exciting, very talented driver."

"It must be a slow news day. Oh look, Latvia is beating Serbia in hockey. Oh curling is on. I don't get curling with the broom and thing. What do you do to turn pro in curling? Become a maid? Actually a guy got disqualified today for using a leaf blower."

WHAT IS MORE FUN? TAKING A LAP HERE OR A LAP AROUND THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "Indy doesn't have the banking like this track does. Indy to me is really exciting because of the historical goes so far back. I have got a 1913 Mercer Race About that came in second at Indy back then. It is kind of fun. To see all the pictures from the early days when it was brickyard and all that kind of stuff. To me, that is the real old, old history of American Motorsports. This one is exciting just because of the banking. When you get sidewards like that on the banking, it is pretty cool. It is a once in a lifetime experience. It is something that most people won't get to do. Unless you ride the dorky bus?"

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CAR TO DRIVE? "I have a lot of steam cars. They are just a lot of fun. The great thing about driving a steam car is they are so unusual and they are so bizarre that even the most talent mechanic has had no experience with them. So it is fun to watch people. I had some Germans come over to my garage one time. I asked if they wanted to go for a ride and they asked if I had the steam car (uses German accent). This is amazing, the steam car.

"They were just lost. It is the exact opposite of an internal combustion engine. The Stanley turns 357 revolutions per mile. That is 60 mph. It is the exact opposite, in most cars you are trying to get the heat out of the engine. In a Stanley, or any kind of steam vehicle, you are trying to keep the heat in. So you try to find a place where it is escaping and patch it with asbestos and then you die. It is a lot of fun. With a Stanley, when you get up to speed, you know there is fire in the front of it, it will catch fire and the fire will come over the hood it says Increase Speed Until Fire Blows Out. So sometimes you will look like a fireball going down the road. Sometimes the flames will come over the front so you just increase the speed until the fire goes out. I can't see Chevy putting that in a manual - Caution, Increase The Speed Until Fire Blows Out.

HOW SCARY WAS THE SPIN YOU HAD AT TALLADEGA IN THE PORSCHE? "Well, that was kind of scary. I didn't hit the wall. I spun out at 188 mp, which was kind of dopey. What happened was I had just gone through the traps and I got off the throttle a little too much and the back end came around. But I remembered the whole thing about you will hit what you are looking at. So, I could see the wall, as soon as I saw the wall coming, I hit the brakes and cut the wheel and managed to get it around so I didn't hit the wall."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Dennis Setzer , Jay Leno