Jay Leno Loves Auto Racing

Friday, February 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — While his buddies worshipped baseball players, Jay Leno grew up watching auto racing.

``Drivers were heroes to me, just like Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax to other kids,'' Leno says in Sunday's issue of USA Weekend magazine.

The host of NBC's ``The Tonight Show'' owns dozens of classic and antique cars, but he also loves NASCAR, which begins its Winston Cup season this weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla.

``You can't drive anything that resembles a Formula One car down to the Dairy Queen,'' Leno says. ``But you can take a Chevy, give it loud mufflers, put a NASCAR sponsor decal on it and — presto — you're making like a driver at Talladega.''

Leno said his wife, Mavis, doesn't mind him spending time around all those loud, growling engines. ``After all, when you come home smelling of gasoline, there's no doubt where you've been hanging out at night.''