Jay Leno takes an Indy car for a spin in Phoenix

Jay Leno seen attending Jaguar's unveiling event for their next era vehicle at Milk Studios on Nov. 14, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Michael Tullberg

Jay Leno had the chance to take an Indy car out for a spin at the Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona on Saturday

The 66-year-old former “Tonight Show” host turned laps behind the wheel of an INDYCAR Experience single-seater under the watchful eye of four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.

While the car may not be as fast as Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Dixon was still impressed with his driving:

“I’ve driven cars with more power but not that much grip,” said Leno after he got out of the car. “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.”

“It’s great to see his passion for racing and how knowledgeable he was on the whole INDYCAR field and drivers and different eras,” added Dixon. “But it was also nice just to chat about different cars, about the new Ford GT and different things.

“He did a really good job (driving) and he’s not scared. 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.”

Highlights from Leno’s drive will be shown in an upcoming episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Additionally, the episode will feature footage shot from when Leno went for a ride-along with Sam Schmidt, a former IndyCar Series driver who was rendered a quadriplegic following a crash in 2000. Thanks to advanced technology, Schmidt is now able to drive again behind the wheel of the Arrow semi-autonomous motorcar (SAM) Corvette using breath, voice and head movements.

“He was incredible,” said Leno. “He took me out in his Corvette where he drives by blowing into the tube. Man, that was wild! It was a lot of fun and he was really fast. Always a racer.”

“I was very excited to do it,” added Schmidt, who was at the IndyCar test as a team co-owner. “I’ve been to his garage a couple times and it’s just phenomenal. He has a pure passion for cars, a pure passion for the sport.

“The Corvette and the technology there, he was really inspired by what that has the possibility to do for people with disabilities and that translational stuff. That’s what drove that. But here (in INDYCAR), he obviously has a very large following of car enthusiasts and across a wide range of ages, so the more of that kind of exposure we can get, the better.”