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Barbara Terry interview with Mike Piazza

When you think of Mike Piazza, you think of the all-time home run champion for Major League Baseball catch­ers, hitting 400! You think playboy, because of his good looks and success. You think of a 12-time all-star during a career that is likely to end up getting him into the Hall of Fame. You don’t necessarily think of a family man and a guy that’s hip on car dealerships.

All right Mike, let’s start with the very beginning. What was your first car?

I believe it was a, yes, it was a ’72 Nova. It was kind of neat. It had the air shocks in the back with the air hose. It was red. My father was in the car business so we always had a plethora of cars. I even had an IROC Z.

What motor did you have in the IROC Z?

I don’t even remember. I think it was the larger motor. The sport with t-tops and stuff. That was standard issue in high school for me. What else did we have? We had a bunch of stuff. Like I said, the good thing about being in the car business was that you get so many trade-ins. I mean, my first job was when I was 12 years old, washing cars down at my dad’s car lot. So I was driving around the parking lot when I was 14. I’ve always loved cars and it is such a big part of my fami­ly history.

Your dad’s dealership, was it a used car dealership or was it a franchise?

My dad started with used cars and then he was one of the first Datsun dealers in this country in 1968,1 believe, which is now Nissan. Then he eventually went into Honda. He got a Honda franchise, and the gas crunch hit in the ’70s. They did really well for him, especially in the last year or two, as there’s been a big push for hybrids because of the gas prices. Remember, back in the ’70s, there was a gas crunch and people were lin­ing up for gas? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Mike, I was not pumping gas in the ’70s, so I do not remember that!

There was this gas crunch in the ’70s and people were waiting for gas. I don’t know if it was OPEC or what.

Each station had a certain allotment of gas per week and when they sold out, they were done. So, the point is, there was a rush on Hondas. They were selling hun­dreds and hundreds of Hondas a month based on what was going on with gasoline.

Cars are cool.

No, they are very cool. It’s a part of Americana. Like the way horses were in the 1800s and horseless carriages were in the 1900s. There’s something about America and its vastness and the freedom it offers, you know.

People love to drive with the top down. It gives them a sense of freedom, it’s what the United States is, where­as, in Europe, the towns are laid out in a communal sense. You have the plaza orthe piazza and the church.

You could walk to church or walk to breakfast or walk to coffee. This country is a little more based on the automobile. I’m going off on a weird tangent here.

That’s okay (ALL LAUGH). You mentioned you were driving at 14. How old were you when you got your dri­ver’s license?

Seventeen.

Why were you 17 and not 16?

Because my dad wouldn’t let me drive. He thought if I drove at 16, that I wouldn’t be as focused on baseball.

Ohhhhh.

Yeah. I think it goes back to what I was saying. You’re rebellious at that time. I think if I got my license at 16,1 would have been too worried about cruising for girls instead of baseball.

That’s what we all did at 16.

Yeah, but I remember him telling me,’If you get to the Major Leagues, you’ll have all the cars you want and all the girls you want but you have to get to the Major Leagues first’ I remember him saying those words, so, again, I have to thank him for that.

Your dad was very insightful and correct regarding his beliefs in your future career.

He was right, so maybe, again, I have to thank him. In his defense, too, I was a very aloof, free-spirited kid. It all worked out, as you can see.

Okay, so you got your driver’s license when you were 17 and you had a Nova. Can you tell me more about the Nova. Was it a trade-in at your dad’s dealership?

Yeah, it was a trade-in. I actually think a friend of his had it and then I drove it for a few months. I really only had it for a couple of months, then I just started looking around at other cars. I would be at my dad’s dealership when a trade- in would come in and would drive the salesmen crazy because they wanted to resell all of the trade-ins, but I wanted dibs on some of them.

This is how I got my IROC. It was funny because I remem­ber that car, being as I have an affinity for those late-’60s muscle cars – the Camaros, the GTOs, the Chevelles. I love watching auto auctions on TV. I think it’s cool. But I’m more into the one-off classic car look with a new car vibe. I’m not big into the whole complete reproduction, which I think is cool, but I like the newer versions of the old car.

Of course! Like the new Camaro and/or the Challenger coming out. What do you think about the Saleen Mustangs?

I think they’re cool cars. I’m not a huge Ford aficionado. Obviously, some people are Ford and others are Chevy. There are a few Fords that I like, but I was always big on GM – a little bit of MOPAR and I like the Chargers. I watched The Dukes of Hazzard as a kid and those are cool cars. Some guy here locally has a beautiful Charger. He’s trying to sell it and keeps reducing the price.

How fast have you gone in a street car?

It’s pretty funny. I had a ’97 Mercedes S-600 in California when I played with the Dodgers. It’s so funny, but I don’t want to tell it. A friend of mine is a guy named Eddie Braun – a Hollywood stunt man. He has crashed cars his whole life. He’s Charlie Sheen’s stunt double and I met him in California. He’s huge. So I had this, not the SL, but the S, the 600, the two-door with aftermarket 19-inch Pirellis. I just remember we were going down the 405 with no traffic, about 11:30 in the morning. Eddie kept telling me to step on it so we could see what it could do. So I hammer it down. This car was a monster, the V12.1 look down and I’m doing 120, and I blow right by a C.H.I.P.

No way.

Yeah. He pulls me over. He comes up to the window. He says, ‘License and registration.’ Then he says, “Where you going so fast, Mike?’ Just like that. Apparently he recog­nized’ me. I was playing for the Dodgers, so I was some­what recognizable, I guess, and my buddy Eddie said, ‘Officer, I’m a stunt guy. It’s my fault. I encouraged him. I said let’s see what this can do.’ He was totally trying to help me out and this guy goes, ‘Do you know this girl?’ He just started to make small talk and didn’t give me a ticket. I told him, ‘Officer, I never drive like this – wide open road, not a truck in sight – so I opened it up.’ I don’t want to say that’s an excuse, but this was the most safe condition where you could actually do that. This was so straight, at a point after Laguna Beach, where you could see for five miles. I ham­mered it and never felt anything like it It was, like, 120. That’s it -11:30 in the morning and I got pulled over.

It’s too tempting not to feel the rush of the speed when you have perfect conditions.

I’m not advocating breaking the law, but you’re right. I find it hard to believe that someone in the middle of Montana in the summer with five lanes and no cars… again. I’m not saying it’s okay, but, if you’re going 100 miles an hour, nobody’s going to notice.

I love coming to Florida. It is so laid back here.

Yeah. There are so many cars out there now, it really is dangerous. You don’t know. In Florida, a cop told me 20 per­cent of the drivers are over 80.

Oooooh!

That’s one in five over 80. With that statistic, you have to be careful. You have to drive defensively.

It should always be about safety and safety first.

Yeah. Now I have Cheerios on the floor of my Mercedes.

Do you ever see yourself owning a hybrid; don’t you want to go zero to 60 in 30 minutes?

That’s a good question. The Escalade – isn’t that the biggest contradiction-the Escalade hybrid. It’s like having a huge golf cart.

Yeah. You don’t have the horsepower like you would with a big V8 gas engine, so do not expect to really be able to punch it.

Until they really perfect the technology of some kind of alternative fuel, whether that be the hydrogen cell or the hybrid, I think I will stick with my current cars.

Have you heard about the Tesla?

Yeah, the four-door they’re now making. I just had the Car and Driver that it was in, and that’s a pure plug-in car, right?

Yes, and it does have quite a bit of umph and get-up- and-go!

No, I don’t doubt that. I think the question is, again, if you plug it into the wall, you’re still using some form of fossil fuel – some coal plant or whatever – unless it’s nuclear. I don’t know. I have no problem with alterna­tive fuels. I think it’s cool and there is a market for that one day. I don’t think you’ll ever get the gas-fueled combustible engine out of the Americana, as it is in our blood. Of course, you can tone it back. If you have a Prius you take to work every day, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not saying you always have to have a Ferrari or a Mercedes, but I think there is an affinity for a combustible engine in this country. I don’t ever see it subsiding.

Well, it can’t totally. For instance, you take the South, you take construction workers. They’re never going to work out of a Prius. They need a truck. They’ll have to have their three-quarter and one-ton pick-up trucks to use for their careers, to make a living.

You’re right. It’s like when I travel; I take the babysitter and my wife, my daughter and the luggage and her coach and other stuff. So I have to call for an SUV to pick us up at the airport. Am I going to take two Priuses? We’re a traveling culture, we’re a driving culture and I think alter­native fuels are great. I think they should be pursued and perfected. I think it would be great to pull up and get hydro­gen. It would be cheaper. I just don’t want to end up like the Hindenburg. I don’t want to blow up.

(LAUGH) When you first got signed to a big contract what was the car that you went out and grabbed up?

That’s a good question. I would say, not when I first got signed, but that Mercedes was like my first toy car, that two-door.

Now you have a Mercedes and a Range Rover. What other cars have you owned?

Living in New York, I always had an affinity for Mercedes. I had one of the first BMW 7 Series in this country-the new 2002, black 745.

You know not to buy the first year of any new model. Why’d you do that?

Because I wanted it. Because I wanted to be the first to have one.

They had a series of mechanical problems with that new body 745 in 2002, so your car probably spent more time in the shop than in your garage, right?

Yeah. I don’t follow suit with most people. Usually you’re either a BMW guy or a Mercedes guy. I like them both. I think the BMW 7 Series is a great driving car. My Mercedes S-550 I have now is a great car. I think there’s something to be said about German engi­neering. The doors shut more crisply.

Nice luxury suspension. There’s a butt for every seat. That’s why so many manufacturers stay in business – because we all have different tastes.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s like with wine – there’s French wine, a little more European, a little smoother. There’s California wine, a little more robust; Cabernet, out-of-the-barrel drinkable, a little smoother. I think that’s the cool thing, and I’m into being all over the map. If I see a car and I like it, then I will buy it. I don’t stick to a genre.

Do you have your eyes on a particular vehicle now?

Yeah. I want the four-door Lamborghini, black exterior with parchment/tan interior or the silver. I just don’t know if I want to pay $400,000 for a car.

A four-door Lambo?

I think it’s cool. I have to have a baby seat in the back.

I can’t have a two-door anymore. When you have kids, your whole life changes.

What has been your favorite car from the get-go?

That’s a good question. That’s like picking a favorite fla­vor of ice cream, a favorite candy.

You probably have a certain passion for each car that you have owned.

I was never a huge Porsche fan. It’s sort of smaller and I’m a bigger guy, so it’s tough for me to get in. I’ve always liked larger formatted cars with four doors, and with that said, yeah, it’s fun driving a Ferrari. I was actually considering getting the, you remember the 456 GT automatic Ferrari. When it first came out it was the first automatic car that I can recall. It had a front engine, so it was kind of a cool car.

I see you cruising down South Beach in a Bentley Arnage.

The Bentley Arnage. Maybe the Silver Spur, but I don’t know about the Arnage. I would have to say that this is the largest collection of Bentleys in the world, in South Beach. There’s no question. It’s funny, you pull up to a hotel and you expect special treatment with a Bentley. I have a friend and we joke. We’re, like, There’s anoth­er Bentley and another Bentley. There’s another Bentley.’ Yeah, when those first came out, they were all over the place. But look how Bentley got in that market, that higher-end luxury market in the U.S.

SUVs, without a doubt give you a sense of security by being elevated.

Oh my God, you just want a fighting chance if, God for­bid, you get in an accident. There’s something to be said about that. With a lot of cars in America, there are also a lot of bad drivers…really bad drivers. I now think, as a parent, your priorities shift. You kind of become more evolved. I want my daughter in a nice safe Mercedes with something around her.

What Mike was most proud of was his wife, daughter and family. He seemed to be at a very happy place in his life, improving his dream homea renovation project he began as soon as he retiredand building a family.

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athletes, baseball, boxing, Dallas Cowboys, fast, football, golf, nascar, olympics, WWE

Barbara Terry interview with Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer Is known as ‘The King’ for many reasons. He was king of the golf world for years, being the first man to reach a million dollars in earnings; and having won seven majors throughout his career, includ­ing the Masters four times fbetween 1958 to 1964); the U.S. Open in I960; and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. He is the king of charity, too, having won numerous humanitarian and golf achievement awards over the years. He is also king of the business world, as he’s an excellent entrepreneur, helping found the Golf Channel and owning successful car dealerships

Arnold’s choice in his Cadillac dealerships is a perfect fit for him because, in reality, he’s the Cadillac of golf. He has set the pace that Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have followed and driven themselves to break. Arnold was very enjoyable and informative, and very passionate about aviation throughout the course of this interview.

What was your first car that you owned?

You don’t want to go back that far.

I do if you do.

Well, the first car I had was a two-door Ford sedan, and it was a 1949.

Okay. Did you buy it with your own money or was it given to you?

I bought it with my own money, as I have with every car or every mode of transportation that I have ever had.

Let’s start off with airplanes and your fascination with flying. Then we can get into your history with cars, other modes of transportation and your car dealer­ships.

When I was very young I went on a golf trip to play a tournament as an amateur. It was a DC3, which was a mode of transportation in those days. I flew through a thunderstorm on my way to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It scared the life out of me. I saw things I had never heard of and I didn’t know what was happening. So, having been scared, I decided that, in my life, I was probably going to do a lot of flying and traveling. That was going to be very important to my destiny.

As soon as I got home, I decided I was going to learn more about aviation and traveling. As the years went by, I studied and worked on learning more about avia­tion, and the first year that I became a professional and I had enough money, I started adding to that by taking flying lessons. Time went on, and within two years, I had a private license and started flying by myself to various exhibitions and tournaments. I found that, in doing that, it afforded me the opportunity to do my work-meaning play golf-and do exhibitions. And it allowed me to spend time with my family. I would go out in the morning, for example, play an exhibition, do the things I needed to do and then fly home at night so I was with my family.

As time went on and I started playing more tourna­ments, I found that I could get to the tournament sites far easier flying than I could driving. The first couple years, I drove across the United States. I drove to L.A., back to the East coast, back to the West coast. That was very trying. After about five years of that, I was to where I could afford to fly more and I flew commercially. That started in about 1955, and about 1961, I bought my first airplane – a twin-engine Aero Commander. By then, my family had grown a little and, during the summer, I put my wife and children in the airplane with me and I flew to the golf tournaments.

As my schedule got more hectic, I bought another air­plane in 1963, which was a 560 Aero Commander. I bought that new and, because of the heavy schedule, I hired a pilot part-time to go with me to help take care of the air­plane and to fly with me to tournaments. As the years went on, I had a great interest in some of the executive travel that was going on. I was watching the executive airplanes turn into jets. In 1966,1 leased a Jet Commander and I flew that for two years. The lease ran out and I made a new deal with Lear for a Lear 24. That deal was a nine-year deal. I flew it myself with the pilot who accompanied me, took care of the airplane and did a lot of the stuff that was necessary to be professional and fly yourself around the country.

Nine years I did that, and then, in 1976,1 had a good friend who was an attorney who represented me. He became an aviation expert and became a part of Cessna. So, when the lease ran out on the Lear 24, I went to a Cessna Citation 1. That was one of the first Cessna Citations built. I got the No. 1 Citation 2. That was in 1978. Then, in 1983,1 got a Citation 3.1 had a couple of those. And then, in 1992, I got a Citation 7. In 1996,1 got a Citation 10-the No. 1 pro­duction airplane. Then, in 2002,1 got my second Citation 10 and that’s what I’m flying today. I fly these airplanes myself. I go to Flight Safety once a year to do my recurrent training for the Commander, all the Citations and the Citation 10. I’m somewhere in the area of over hours of flying. I fly my airplane everywhere I go.

Is there a favorite place that you like to fly to?

Everywhere that I fly to, I go on business. I fly for golf, for business. One of my favorite places, of course, where I do a great deal of business, is Palm Springs, California. I do like to fly there.

How old were you when you first got your pilot’s license?

I was 26 years old.

Have you ever been caught up in the air in a bad thun­derstorm? Other than the first one you told me about?

I have been in thunderstorms flying on numerous occasions and, particularly, in my early days. The first airplanes that I flew did not have radar. So I flew in weather, and occasionally, I got in a thunderstorm, yes. In those days, it wasn’t quite like it is today, where you can get directions around thunderstorms. In my early days of flying, if you flew on instruments, you were inevitably going to fly in thunderstorms. That was just a part of the business of flying.

What’s been your all-time favorite plane that you’ve owned or had from the get- go?

Citation 10.

At what year did you open up your first car dealership?

The first dealership I had was in 1981. That was Arnold Palmer Motors.

How many dealerships do you have now?

Well, we built the dealerships up to nine and I have sold all but one. I still have Arnold Palmer Motors in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

While flying yourself around on the golf circuit, did you find that you were the only player doing so, or were there other players also flying themselves around?

No, actually, there were some before me. A guy by the name of Johnny, who goes way back. He was a pilot and did some flying. Then guys like Lloyd Mangrum had a Bonanza. Jimmy Demaret had an airplane that he flew. There are others, I just can’t come up with all of them. And, of course, in the early days, not long after Jack Nicklaus came on the tour, he got an airplane. He wasn’t a pilot, but he had an airplane and he had a crew that flew him wher­ever he wanted to go.

What do you currently have going on,? Do you do a lot of charity work? You mentioned that you still fly to events. What current events do you have going on?

I have the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women; the Arnold Palmer Medical Center here in Orlando. It’s quite large. We have, in the medical cen­ter, we have the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Children and Women. That’s brand new and it’s huge. We have the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in that medical cen­ter, we have a trauma center in that medical center and we have a cancer research center in that center. I have an Arnold Palmer Pavilion, which is a cancer treatment center in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I have a prostate cancer center in the Lucy Curci Cancer Center at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, California. We have a hand center that is in Baltimore – Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. And a guy by the name of Tom Grant, who is in charge of that, is doing some work with people like John Kanzius, who is working to help cure cancer with M.D. Anderson. And I’m chairman of the hospital foundation at the Excela Latrobe Hospital.

Don’t you have an annual golf tournament that you host?

I have a tournament here at Bay Hill that is an annual tournament that is called the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It goes on every March. One of the recip­ients is the Arnold Palmer Hospital or Medical Center here in Orlando.

If you had a dream plane that you have yet to acquire, what would that plane be?

Just the Citation 10.1 just want to keep it. I love it.

What all do you love about it? Tell me a few key things.

It’s my second Citation 10; I had the first production model. I’m now at 176 production-the fastest private executive jet in the air. It seats 11 people and it’s a wonderful vehicle to get around the world in.

Is it a common thing, in this day and time, that players fly themselves on the circuit?

There’s a few of them that have airplanes that take themselves from one course to another, such as Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. But they do notflythe air­planes, they have crews that fly them.

Do you happen to listen to music while you’re flying?

No, I’m busy working. I can’t afford the luxury of music while I’m flying an airplane. I have to pay attention to what I’m doing.

Arnold Palmer is all about class. From major championships to Cadillacs to airplanes, he exudes elegance and style. He is one of the greatest golfers of all time and, along with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, is one of the few professional golfers that can truly be included In the conversation as perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. It was a pleasure to interview him and it’s a true honor to have him included in this book.

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Barbara Terry interview with Roy Oswalt

Roy Oswalt is a celebrated Major League pitcher who has spent his entire nine-year career, thus far, with the Houston Astros. He’s won almost twice as many games as he’s lost (137-70) and has compiled an impres­sive 3.23 career ERA. He’s won 20 games twice – in the 2004 and 2005 seasons – and has played in three all-star games. Roy is in contention for the Cy Young Award seemingly every year, finishing in the top five for Cy Young voting year after year.

So, Roy, what was your first car?

It was a ’63 Step Side truck. I worked all summer to get it. It was a bad green. We got a guy to paint it for me for $500. He did a pretty good job, too. Painted it blue. I drove that until my senior year and got another Step Side Truck – a ’95. I’m looking for that truck – the ‘63.1 have the serial number and everything. I’m trying to go through the state where you can send in and they’ll see if you’re looking for it for real or looking for some­one. They make sure you want to find it. I just want to restore it.

I have other athletes in the book that have located a car from their past. David Ragan, for instance. There was an old Corvette his dad had sold to get funds to help David in his early racing days and he found it in Pennsylvania. The guy didn’t want to sell it back and David wanted to buy it to surprise his dad. I guess David sweetened the deal and he finally got it.

It’s actually funny, 10 years after I sold it, I was walk­ing through the woods and the truck drove by and I couldn’t get back to my truck in time to catch it, and that was it. I wrecked the ’63 one time and tried to Bondo it myself. I noticed the Bondo when it drove by. That was probably eight years ago when I saw it. I sold it 13 or 14 years ago.

What did you own after that? Cars, trucks tractors, bulldozers?

When I was drafted after college, I bought a boat – a splash and sea kind of boat I used to tow around the city. We had fun with it. I had that for three years. I towed it around from New York to Michigan to Florida and all across the country. Then I sold it and I bought a ’98 Explorer in 2000. Now I have a Cadillac Escalade I bought in ’01 when I got to the major leagues. I got another Cadillac Escalade last year for my wife. And I have a ’63 Chevy Camaro and a 2010 Tundra.

Tell me about the Bulldozer that you have.

The best thing I own. (GRINS FROM EAR TO EAR) The restaurant I own, I actually made that parking lot with it. I got it for winning a game in the World Series in ’05. The owner of the Astros has a lot of real estate in Texas and he bought a bulldozerto clean up his ranch. I asked him what he was going to do with it when he was done and he said, probably sell it. I was going to buy that one from him. We were in the playoffs and I was watching Tate on the St. Louis Cardinals before I pitched against him. The owner came in and we were talking while I was watching Tate on TV, and he said he’d buy me a new bulldozer if I beat Tate. I got up, shook his hand and went back. I remember pitching about the sixth inning and we were winning 4-1.1 was thinking I needed four more innings. I got through three more innings and the reliever came in, in the ninth, and finished it off. I never left the field. I sat in the clubhouse next to the owner and reminded him of it, and he came through. I got it in the off-season.

What kind of music do you listen to in the car?

All kinds of country – Kenny Chesney, Merle, Hank, Rascal Flatts.

Have you ever looked at another player’s car and told yourself you needed one of those?

I am not big on new cars. We have a lot of guys that have Lamborghinis and stuff, but I’m not big on them. I like older cars. We have a first base coach – Cheo Cruz – that played with the Astros for 20 years. He had a ’57 Chevy that was nice and he also had a ’64 Mustang that was a convertible. That was nice. I like old, classic cars.

They’re hard to beat. What about your Camaro? Tell me about how you found it and the restoration process.

I was actually in Texas. I love ’67 and ’69 Camaros. Probably ’69 the best. I was looking at one that was pretty close to the original, something I liked. It was nice on the inside. I like the old-school look with a new school ride, so I was going to keep the look on the outside, but have the drive and suspension of a new Corvette. I took the inside of a 2010 Camaro and put it in the ’67 Camaro.

Do you get a lot of tickets?

No. (LAUGHTER)

Something was definitely up here. I wasn’t going to leave it at that.

Do you get pulled over a lot?

I’ve had a few tickets.

How fast have you gone?

Well, actually, I wasn’t driving. I was 15 and I just had a permit, but my friend had his license and we bor­rowed a car from a friend. She was 19 and the car was a new Accord with about 500 miles on it. There was a town up the road about eight miles – we used to hang out there. We came driving through town in a new car

and everybody wanted a ride, so we picked up two girls and my wife-who I was dating at the time -and my brother and a friend of mine. So there were seven of us in a Honda Accord.

How did you manage that?

My friend, my wife and I were sitting in the middle. My brother and two girls and another guy were in the back. We decided to go to another town and shoot some pool, and we wanted to see how fast it would go so we floored it.

Was it a four- or a six-cylinder?

It was a six. We probably got it to about 120. It would­n’t go any faster. We were on a straightaway, and back then they wouldn’t let cars cut off. Now, they run too fast, they’ll blow up. We get to the top of the hill and there’s a State Trooper. All I see is blue lights. At the time, my buddy told me he had a license, but he didn’t. He had a permit. I had a permit. My brother had a license. So my buddy’s legal, but he only has a per­mit. He says, ‘What do I do?’ I said pull over and he said he wasn’t stopping. So we don’t stop and that policeman chased us for, it seemed like days, but it was hours. We had that thing floored.

This is like an episode of Dukes of Hazzard.

Yeah. We’re flying down the road. We can see blue lights two hills behind us as we go up a mountain on a dirt road. The car’s turning so we decide, whichever way the car goes, we’re going the other. There’s two dirt trails. Well, this car’s going 30 and we’re going 100, so there’s a little bit of dust. Then we get to a T, and luckily on the other side of the T is a field, and we’re, like, which way, which way and nobody answers. So we actually jump the T and head out into this field and I’m, like, ‘Right, right, right,1 and we turn right. We got so far ahead of him he called back-up and set a road block. But we’d taken so many turns, they didn’t know where to set the road block. We get back to the high­way and there’s three cars. When we passed the offi­cer, it was pitch dark so he couldn’t see the color of the car.

We got in between those three cars and as all this goes on, my buddy that has a license changes seats with my buddy driving because he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his permit. We ease up to the road block and they have Mustangs ready to go. We pull up with a car in front of us and a car behind us. An officer comes up and asks to see a driver’s license. He says, ‘What are you guys doing down here?’ My buddy says, ‘We had to take this girl back home after we went to the movies. What’s going on?’ Like we have no idea. The officer says, ‘Somebody’s trying to be funny and outrun the law.’ The police officer gave him back his license and we drive through the road block. We’re free and laughing all the way home. Three days later, the guy that turned at the top of the hill got video.

Oh no.

Yeah, and they got the tag number. They went to the girl’s house. We dropped the car off that night and I know that thing had dings and scratches on it. We washed it up, but it was dark and we couldn’t see. She’s, like, ‘You guys are so responsible. Anytime you want it, you come get it.’ I felt bad. Three days later, the cops come to her house to arrest her. She told them who did it and called Scott, my friend, and said, ‘Get ready, the cops are coming to your house.’

Wow.

They showed up. He got a lot of tickets and stuff, and we all got in big trouble.

Did you get grounded? Did you get a whoopin’?

I didn’t get a whoopin’, but I got grounded for a while.

Wow, that’s a great story. That has to be one of the best that I have heard. Rules are made to be broken!

Until my kids read it.

Okay. It’s a great story, though. I have to print it. But maybe we should move on. When you got your first big contract did you go out and buy a cool car?

I actually didn’t. I was scared I wouldn’t make the big leagues, so I put most of it back to build a house. I did, however, buy that boat.

With the Step Side Chevy, it seems that you are quite a Chevy guy. Is there a dream car or truck you have ever wanted or dreamt about?

Classic cars. I like ’57 Chevys. They were big cars growing up. My dad loved them and he would brag on them. Going down the street, if we saw one, he would always ask us what make, model and year.

Have you ever had any bad accidents other than outrun­ning the law?

I’ve had a few. I had one in high school. (A DEVILISH GRIN SPREADS ACROSS HIS FACE) I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I was doing. I was taking home a friend after high school who didn’t have a ride, after baseball practice. That ’63 truck I had, it had a six-cylinder when I got it and I put a 327 in it – an old Holley.

What’s up with you and this horsepower thing? You always need it bigger and faster.

It’s funny, when I stop at a light if they take off, I have to pass them. There’s something about competition. I have to beat them and race through town.

So, I take him home and he says something like, ‘This thing won’t run very fast.’ I take off and I try to go around this long curve and I let my right tire get on the gravel. We actually went down in one ditch, and went across and started spinning in the highway. As we’re spinning, it’s funny, it’s almost like slow motion. My buddy says, ‘We’re going to flip.’ I’m trying to drive and we start to straighten out. I shift into second and try and go the other way to drive out of it. I’m going so fast, backwards, smoke is com­ing off the tires. We go through and hit a fence post and end up in a pond. I get out and I think my truck is dead. The fender’s gone and I try and back it out. The tire actually had come off the rim when I came off the road and I could­n’t get it out. I had to call a tow truck and got grounded for that, too, because I wasn’t supposed to be down that way.

What year was this and how old were you?

Nineteen ninety-three, and 16.

So, Roy, why are you so rough on vehicles?

I like to try them out.

How well can you drive a stick shift?

That’s all I drive.

How many more years will you play? I ask because some athletes in this book are on the cusp and some are retired.

I’m going to play two more, for sure, and then decide. We’ll see where I’m at. If I’m close to something, I might go after it numbers-wise or championship-wise, but probably not much longer than that. I want to try and do something else, maybe NASCAR. I love competition.

Cool. Okay, road trips. Do you have any favorites.? I’m sure you drive from Texas to Mississippi.

Yeah, I own land in Mississippi. Actually, Jake Peavy, we own land together there and in Michigan, and we kind of hunt there and go to Illinois and hunt, and then Alabama, maybe, all season. It’s a tour.

So, your hunting ranch, is it like Jay Novacek’s hunting ranch. The Upper 84?

That’s what I have here.

Tell me all about it

I started it in ‘06.1 high-fenced it and I’ve been trying to get the deer to a high quality so somebody who would pay to come on will shoot quality deer. I just started selling hunts this year and had a few guys come on. It’s fun. A lot of these people are corporate people and I like meeting them. It gives you options after baseball. Plus, watching some­one else kill one is as fun as hunting. The place in Illinois and Missouri is just personal, with friends and family.

Is it solid deer or are there other options for a good hunt?

I have some exotics too, from Africa and India.

How long does it take you to dress a deer?

Just take the hide off of it? Twenty minutes.

Tell me about your charity. Fund 44.

We have a bond set up, so if someone loses their house in a fire or they lose their job, we buy stuff at Christmas for them.

Tell me about your restaurant.

We just built it. I wanted a steakhouse close. I’m tired of driving 45 minutes to eat.

I figured that was your restaurant when I drove by it. Do you have frog legs on the menu?

Yes, we have frog legs, quail, a catfish buffet, but we specialize in steaks. All Angus. I try to buy the best. I looked all over Texas and I actually get meat from Buckhead in Atlanta. The biggest thing for me, here, I try and invest in quality, but here you have to have something you can afford. I could have the best in the world, but no one around here is going to pay $50 a steak. I’m trying to get the best quality that you can afford. It’s been working so far. It’s called Home Plate and we opened in November of 2009. □

Roy, without a doubt, had the most rural location out of the 40 athletes in my book. Something about the smell of game, cow shit and hot rides just takes me back to growing up in small town Texas. Floy’s Southern hospitality was addictive and inviting. Heck, he even left me drive his bulldozer!

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Barbara Terry interview with Dan O’Brien

Dan 0′ Brien is a three-time world champion and gold medal Olympic dec athlete. How many people could com­pete in so many events -10-10 track and field events…to be able to finish them, let alone beat everybody in the world at the 100-meter run, the long jump, shot put, javelin toss events and so forth ? How much energy must a guy like Dan O’Brien possess, how much drive?

So, what was your first car?

My first car was a beat-up B210, when I was in 11th grade. I got it for $500.

What color was it?

It was primer gray.

So, it was obviously used when you got it. How many miles did it have on it?

You know what, I don’t even remember. But it was really old and beat-up. I do remember I sold it when I went off to college. I had that car in high school, but I didn’t drive it a whole bunch. I had a buddy that knew this girl that had a convertible. We drove around all the time. My car was just kind of a rig that I would use when I didn’t get a ride from somebody else. And it was amazing, I sold it for more money than I got it for when I went off to college a couple years later.

Wow. It sounds like you were a kind of car wholesaler.

Well, you know what? I lived in an apartment complex before I went to college and there were a couple of girls that borrowed my car all the time. Finally, I said, ‘You know what? I’m leaving in a couple of months and it’s yours if you wanna buy it.’ I had a couple people that wanted it and I sold it to the highest bidder.

Where do you think that truck is now?

Oh, you know it’s gotta be in the scrap someplace.

All right so what’s your favorite car, or dream car, if you don’t already have it? What would that car be and do you think that you’ll ever buy that car?

Absolutely, and I do believe I will actually own that car at some point. But the car that always catches my eye, that always stands out, is the E55, the Mercedes E55. They’re sports sedans, top-of-the-line sports sedans.

Do you think you’ll ever pull the trigger on the Mercedes?

You know, I’m actually looking around right now and I like the older Mercedes. They offer a little bit more room inside. I owned a C Class – I owned two C Classes – in the ’90s that were actually World Championship awards. A Mercedes with an IAAF Track and Field sponsor in the ’90s, and I won a C Class Mercedes in 1993 and then another one in 1995. So I owned a C Class Mercedes, you know, for many years. I got rid of those, and I got my wife a car. I’m sure that I’ll get my E-Koff at some point. It’s interesting, I always look for a carthat’s a couple years old. I’m kind of stuck in the old models. I like the old European, where it’s really, really roomy inside.

What color combination Mercedes are you going to buy?

You know, I like the traditional black exterior with the tan interior. I also like the silver and white in the desert. It hides the dirt better, if you’re always clean­ing your cars. Leather’s a little bit more tough to han­dle in this heat, but I don’t know. I think it’s probably gonna be the black or silver.

Okay, I guess living in the desert area, you have to change the batteries a little more often.

Yeah, you do. It’s really interesting. I lived in the Northwest my entire life until about 2002 and it didn’t seem like you had to really pay that much attention to the service on your vehicle. Every 3,000 miles, 2,000 miles, you get your oil changed. But your tires seem to last a lot longer, your bat­teries seem to last a lot longer. Here, I’ve moved down to the desert where, in five years, I’ve changed my battery, I’ve had to get a new windshield. You really gotta keep up on the maintenance of your vehicle just because of the toll the hot weather takes on the car.

Yep, and with the air filter, you’ve gotta change it every 3000 miles, 10,000 miles because of the dust.

Absolutely. And when I moved down here, my car had to go through an emissions test. I’ve never really had to do that.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Absolutely. Yeah, I learned how to drive a stick shift when I was just in high school, when I was just learning to drive. We had about a 20-acre farm and it was important that I, even at age 14 or 15, knew how to drive a car. My uncle had a Volkswagen Bug that he made into kind of a beach dune buggy, and he used to let me drive when we got out into the country. That’s how I learned.

Sounds fun. How old were you when you got your driver’s license?

I was 16, and I think I failed the first time.

The classroom part or the driving part?

The classroom part. But I remember I took my driver’s test in a stick shift.

Oh really?

And I remember I stopped on a pretty decent incline of a hill one time and had to gun it pretty good. But I can remember, it was like a little Toyota pick-up that I took my driver’s test in.

So, funny stories? Like any bad mishaps?

Actually, there is an interesting story. I told you about my friend…he always had a convertible, whether it was a V-8 or an MG. His name was Don and he and I were best friends. We were such good friends that people could’ve mistaken us for each other; we looked alike and hung out together all the time. But he had an MG – a ’78 MG – where, instead of the lug nuts, he had one big bolt in the middle and you could screw off the bolt and you could pull the whole tire off. I remember driving down the road one night and, all of a sudden, the back right half of the car clunks down,

sparks are coming out the back and we’re going 45,50 miles per hour, and we see this tire pass us on the right side. The tire had come undone on that side. The big locking nut in the middle had come undone and the tire had come right off. We’ve got a big rooster of sparks coming off the backside and we see this tire just go past us on the right side. It’s at night, and it looks fantastic with the sparks and everything. So, the tire goes down into the ditch and I’ll bet that tire went a mile into a field. We had to go find this tire in the mid­dle of the night, jack it up and put it back on. That little MG, we just put it through so much. But it was a real­ly strange little car. It was always in the shop. We were always working on it or something. But I haven’t been in any major accidents. Not any mishaps too major, anyway.

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve done in a car?

The most interesting thing.J’ve done a lot of driving, I will say that. Actually, my dad, when we were growing up, bought a, instead of a motor home, he bought a converted school bus. Somebody had converted a pretty good-sized school bus into a camper and it had a woodburning stove in it. It held, like, six or eight peo­ple and we had a pretty large family growing up, and we took this bus. It was white and green. We took this bus everywhere. We went camping in it, we took it to southern Oregon, clear down to L.A., up to Disney World, into Disney Land in Magic Mountain. We real­ly lived in this thing. My dad worked for warehousing in Oregon and there were even times when he would take it out on his work station for the weekend and work for four or five days in one area, and he would live in this. As kids, my brother and I used to go with him and live in this converted school bus. It was real­ly big, and we had a lot we took in there. Now that I think about it, man, I don’t remember growing up being a hippie, but I guess we had this hippie bus.

All right, what are your thoughts on owning versus leasing a car?

I always own my vehicles. Always. I’ve always tried to figure out why people lease and what the benefits to that are, and I’ve always been brought up with the mindset that, if you can’t afford to buy it, then don’t.

Buy the thing so you don’t have to make payments on it. That’s the financial advice that I’ve gotten from the people around me. I thought about leasing a vehicle and I asked a lot of questions. I know people that own car dealerships and I know people that have done both. There never seems to be a standard answer. It seems like it’s different for everybody, and I’m still try­ing to figure that one out.

Well, I think a lot of people are told that they can write off their payments when they lease more, but if you drive your car to or from work and you own your car, then you can do the same.

That’s interesting. I’ve always owned my vehicles, but I’ve been on a leasing program as an athlete – a professional athlete – where I would do a deal with a local Chevy deal­er or some Pontiac dealer and I would get a car to drive for the season or the year. Pretty handy to trade that car in every 4,000 miles or 9,000 miles and get to drive a new one. I enjoy that, but there was always that kind of underlying idea that, This isn’t my car’ so you treated them in the sense that, ‘No, that’s not my car.’ When you’re leasing a car, you watch how you treat it and watch where you park and the kind of stress that you put your car through. I remember, when I first got my first Mercedes, I wanted to cover it up and keep it hidden away because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to it So you really have to treat the car differently when you lease them.

other cars in the past you’ve had leases on cars – but how do you think that affected your decision in cars?

I’ve always just been kind of practical when it comes to cars. I want the thing to be comfortable, clean, I wanna go out and just know that it’s going to start up every day. Even when I didn’t have much money. I’ve tried to take care of my cars. People have gotten into my cars and said, ‘Gosh your car’s clean.’ I don’t go really overboard with cleaning my car. It’s kind of part of ownership with me because I like a clean car so that I can have anyone in it at any time and not think, ‘Oh, my car’s dirty and I don’t want to drive it.’ It’s about practicality. I don’t put big, fat tires on my trucks or big, crazy rims or extravagant paint jobs. I like a good sound system in my car, and I usually just go with however I buy the vehicle. I usually just keep it that way. I have never spent an abhorent amount on changing the look of my exterior of my car. I’ve put a step-aside on my Land Cruiser because it had an option.

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re driving?

I’m very odd. I’ve been told by many people – people not even my own age, kids that I coach – that I have a very wide range of musical tastes. The kind of music that I lis­ten to? I actually listen to a lot of talk radio when I’m driv­ing in the car. I listen to the Adam Carolla show, I listen to Howard Stern, ESPN radio, and just this last year. I’ve been listening to a lot of political discussions on the radio, and I listen to some local guys here in Phoenix. It seems that that’s where I get the majority of my flavor when I’m driving in the car. The kind of music that I listen to is, I like classic rock and roll and R&B. The only bad thing about the radio is that you get the same pop music or same R&B over and over and over again, so I change the channel constantly. But on Saturdays and Sundays, especially dur­ing football, I’m always trying to find a football game.

What do you currently drive?

I drive a ’97 Toyota Land Cruiser, with 70,000 miles.

And that’s actually the one we’re going to do the photo shoot with?

Yup. And that’s a pretty cool car. I bought that car in ’97 and, at the time, it was my largest single purchase. I wrote that check and thought ‘wow’ because I’d never written a check so large for anything, ever. I put it in the garage and I drove a leased car with a local car company that I did a trade-out for a commercial, and my Land Cruiser sat in the garage for a couple of years. So, when I brought it here to Arizona in 2002, it had 30,000 miles on it and it was six years old.

How fast have you driven in a car?

I think I’ve gone 110,115 with a friend of mine that owns a Bentley.

Let’s say, if you would’ve not become an athlete – obvi­ously you’ve chosen a ’97 Land Cruiser and you’ve had been very practical. Saying that, if I still lived in Oregon, where I grew up, I probably would’ve gotten into a Ford F-150. If I lived in California, I would’ve had a car because you do so much more driving there. I like driving on the freeway a lot, I like seeing where I’m going. With the gas mileage, it’s kind of hurting me right now. But, for me, it’s a technicality. My all-time favorite car that I had in the mid ’90s was a Toyota Camry. It was a six-cylinder, it went fast, it went tight, the driving went tight, it was clean. I put my Mercedes in the garage and drove my Camry on a daily basis.

Dan was enthusiastic, to say the least. We thought, on the way to meet him, that he had to be high-energy, but the man we met, the guy that beat the world at track and field in 1996 when he won the gold in Atlanta, was far more energetic than even we conceived. I suppose, as a decath- lete, you learn wasting time is wasting possible success. Dan was gracious and infectious, excited to be part of the book, and he wanted to get the whole process going.

Dan gave Catherine and I more material than we could have asked for. He gave us action shots – jumping hurdles, throwing his javelin, running the bleachers, sweating his tail off – and he graciously gave us pictures of his Land Cruiser.

So, how many Gold medalists are this cool. It takes some energy to enter the 10 events in the decathlon – running, jumping, throwing, let alone to be the very best on the whole planet at it I He was a joy to be around, and we had a great time at the University of Arizona with him. If the stu­dents that he teaches get half the energy we got, they’re lucky kids.


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Barbara Terry interview with Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard is a man who needs little introduction. He is a two-time World Boxing champion, once winning the WBC World Welterweight and WBA Junior Heavyweight championships. He is a former Olympic gold medalist, winning it all at the 1976 games. He won two AAU championships, the Pan AM Games in 1975 and three Amateur National Golden Gloves titles. He was voted the boxer of the ’80s and is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time.

What do you miss most about boxing?

It’s so amazing for me and other people. You don’t appreciate things until they’re gone. The moments that I cherish with my family, my dad, my brother, my friends, I miss my friends. I don’t miss boxing, I miss the camaraderie. Being around my friends and family, when that comes to an end it’s, like…wow…

It’s very unique that you say that because a lot of ath­letes that are in the book are from team sports, like hockey, baseball or football. Some of them are retired, some of them are getting ready to retire. My question to them is always: Number 1, What are you going to do with yourself, and, number 2, Are you going to miss it? The team sports guys always tell me that they miss the camaraderie and their teammates. That’s what they talk about It’s interesting to hear you say the same thing, because boxing isn’t considered a team sport…

Boxing is individual, although there’s a team concept because you need a great corner. You need a great trainer, you need a great prep man, you need all of these things, but it’s more of a mano a mano. It’s more you versus me. I miss that time in training camp, and Dad and Mom cooking meals. It was one big family.

Right. All of the people that surrounded you and assisted you in your sport and all of those people cre­ated an unspoken team.

Right, right. Yeah, exactly.

Operating as a team sport instead as a one-on-one.

Exactly. Now that I look back on it, it was a team. You know, the trainers were more than just training me, they were rooting for me with their spirit and with their belief. It was awesome.

Well, for you to be successful, you really had to have that foundation and that belief. If you look at the real successful athletes, it seems that they had the strong push from their parents, and it seems like your par­ents totally supported you and gave you that neces­sary foundation.

Yes. I started boxing when I was 14. When people look at me or meet me, even my wife, she can’t believe that I was a fighter because I don’t look mean.

You don’t look mean. (I laugh because it’s true, but he was a world champion boxer. He chuckles as well). Right. I don’t have that edge or that air. I just don’t. So when they show a documentary about me, I look and I can’t connect the two. I mean, I am who I am. This is truly the way I am. I remember, eight months ago, they honored me at the Riviera Country Club. It was me, my wife and my kids. Daniel was seven at the time and Camilla was 11, and they showed old highlights of my career: the Olympics, some championship fights. I was watching my kids through my peripheral vision, and they’d look at me and they’d look up there at the screen because they couldn’t believe it, because, to them, I am Papa!

Right. They were having a hard time putting two and two together. (We both laughed hard at the thought of his wide-eyed son, puzzled at his father mauling so many hapless opponents. Doubt they’ll ever break curfew or get smart with dear old Dad!)

It was the cutest thing ever; it was so cute because they just could not believe that was their papa! I asked my kids, ‘Do you know what Papa used to do?’ They said, ‘You were a boxer. You won the Olympics!’And that’s what they know.

But they don’t know the visual of the sport itself.

No they do not, which is good.

What was your first car?

I wish I had that car. It was a dark blue 1967 Chevy Nova. I bought that car myself; I paid, like, $300 for the car. I worked at the Glen Arm Recreation Center. I saved my money and I saved my money and I bought the car. I remember, back then, years ago, you could change the gas pedal for a metal foot, so I did that because it was the cool thing to do. Then I changed my gear shift into a little ball. Yeah, and I had a little crucifix on the rearview mirror. That car was mine. I was so proud of that car. I bought that car with my own money and I cherished that car. It was so cute; I wish I had it again.

Where do you think that car is now?

Jesus Christ. I was looking for it.

You should find the VIN number and find it; it might still be in one piece!

You know what? My little car was so resilient; I bet it’s still around. I might put an APB out on it.

(WE LAUGH.) See, you have a passion about that first car. You bought it with your own money.

Oh, I did. It was my car. I bought it with my own money. I saved and I kept it clean.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes. Not well, but I can because I had my toys. I’ve had the Porsche, I had a Maserati, a Ferrari, I had all of those little toys.

And what happened?

I never drove it because I’d leave it in the garage and the battery would die. I had some wonderful cars.

How many cars do you think that you’ve had during your lifetime – since that first pride and joy?

Oh…I think…I would say…50 cars. Yes, 50.

Fifty, that is a great number. What cars do you have now?

The one that I drive, that I cherish and that I love the most is my Smart Car. I love that thing. My wife bought it for my birthday. She surprised me. Because I looked at the Mini-

Cooper. One day I saw a car zooming past and I said to myself, ‘What the hell is THAT?’ Because it looked like a golf cart, like a baby’s shoe, a large baby’s shoe. I remem­ber we then looked for one. It was hard to find because they were on back order. We drove around looking for them and asked, and the manager said these cars are hard to come by. There’s a six-month or a year wait, some­times. He said he’d keep an eye out, and if something came up, he’d call me.

After that, my wife pursued it. So, my birthday came around and we went to Orange County, being as my wife’s mom lives there, and my wife told me that we needed to go by her mom’s house to pick up something. We went by her house, she raised the garage door, I walked in the garage – and the garage is large – but I didn’t notice it sitting behind the trash can because it’s so small! It’s so tiny, she parked it parallel. And I thought, this is my car! I kept it in Laguna, so when we went to Orange County I always had a carto drive. Then I decided that I was going to bring this car to L.A.

I drove it, got off of the exit and on the freeway. I was driving, like, 50 miles an hour because it was so little. I thought I could get blown away by a tractor trailer. I tried it at 60 and I tried 70, then here comes a big truck flying by. The car didn’t move from the burst of wind from the big truck and that surprised me.

Sounds like your Smart Car has excellent grip.

Right. It’s stable. It hugs the road, it’s so low. I got it to 80; I wasn’t supposed to, but I did it because this is my car. I love it. I drive it every day.

What tires do you have on it; maybe the tires helped the car hug the road?

The same tires that come on it – muffin tires. They’re cute tires. The tires are no bigger than on a golf cart, but I love the car.

How many miles per gallon do you get in your Smart Car?

Thirty-five easy, maybe more.

Okay, so you have the Smart Car and what other vehicles do you have…

We have a Tahoe hybrid, and that car is for the kids. We take the kids to school in that car because my kids – and all kids, I think-they don’t believe in keeping a car clean. That’s their car. I love driving my car because, going a long distance with the family, it is a great car. The thing about it is, you don’t know the damned thing is on because you can’t hear it. Sometimes I start it twice, not knowing it is already started. But it’s a great car. I love that car.

So you’re all about the Green Movement.

No question, yeah. I have two cars-two vehicles-that I think benefit the environment.

Would you ever buy another gas-guzzling vehicle after owning the hybrids?

No. That’s my car. The Tahoe hybrid is my car, and my Smart Car.

If you had a dream car that you never pulled the trigger on, what would that be? I know you had the Maserati, the Ferrari and you had the Porsche. Was there ever a certain car that one of your friends has owned that you have desired?

The only car that comes to mind was an Aston Martin. That was a cool car. Didn’t James Bond drive that car?

Yes, the D.B. 9.

Yeah, yeah, I liked that. That is the only car that comes to mind. But I’m kind of past that point now; I’m a Smart Car and hybrid type of person now.

What’s your favorite color combination when it comes to cars?

I like black on black. I like blue with a cream-color interi­or. I like white. My wife doesn’t like white; she thinks it’s too showy, but that is why I like it!

Very crisp, like your Smart Car.

Yes. My Smart Car is white. I like my color combination of my Smart Car – white with kind of a red interior.

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re cruising down the freeway?

My kids laugh at me. I like the oldies, but the goodies. I like Luther Vandross.

Hey, Luther’s good. He’s not an oldie-but-goodie!

My kids have me listening to some of the rap. They like Tl.

Everybody’s into Tl, a lot of the athletes. Tl, Tl!

I also like Johnny Gill. My music is Johnny Gill. Johnny is a very, very close friend of mine and my family. Johnny will come over here and sing, and the kids love it. The kids love his voice.

Yeah, he has a good and grooving voice.

Oh, a great voice.

Have you ever been involved in a car accident?

Yes. Two accidents, to be exact. I was in one back in the late-’60s, with my mom. My mom was driving me and my two little sisters to South Carolina. What happened, it was late at night and she had just gotten off work but wanted to get on the road, and then fell asleep at the wheel and we went off the road and into a ravine. It was frightening. It sends chills up and down my spine when I think about it. You know how big the old jacks were back then?

Yes.

Well, the impact of the crash, when we hit the ravine, sent the jack straight through the trunk and all the way into the back seat of the car. I had just grabbed my little sister and brought her up front. It was awful. Then I had a head-on collision in a Laredo Jeep. What happened, I took a left turn and this guy went, like, BOOM, straight into me. I had contusions and bruises, but you don’t feel the pain until, like, two days later.

Right like the inner bruising that you get from the impact

Yes. It was really, really horrible.

How old were you when that accident happened?

I was probably in my mid-20s.

How old were you when you were in the childhood acci­dent?

I was in my teens -17, or maybe 18.

Do you have any favorite road trips that you like to take? I know you said that you have relatives that live in Orange County, but any driving trips that stick out in your mind?

Yeah. My wife and I like to go to Santa Barbara. It’s a nice drive down the coastline. It’s so beautiful. We also think a beautiful ride is to the Montage along the PCH. That’s a nice ride, and we know the owner of the Montage in Beverly Hills. He is a friend of ours. It is fantastic. Beautiful.

Do you prefer cars or trucks? Do you think that you lean towards one or another?

Well, I do like both. It depends on what the activity or trip is. If it’s a long trip, I like a big truck. If it’s just around the corner, I like the smallest car I can find – or a convertible.

How fast have you ever driven in a street car on the free­way?

The fastest I’ve driven…! drove 100 miles an hour one time because I wanted to see how it felt. I was scared of the police and it is not smart to drive that fast, but I had to do it. I did it for, like, two seconds and it was, uhm. I don’t know if it was a revelation or I got some big feel out of it, but I did it. I had to do it.

What has been your favorite car out of all of the ones that you have owned since you first got your driver’s license? Is there one that sticks out in your mind that you wish you still had?

You know, I truly loved my 280Z.

Oh my gosh, I am a huge Z person. Those are great cars.

There was nothing like it and I remember when I first had that car. To me, from my memory, when I got in that car, especially at night, the dashboard lit up like a cockpit of an airplane.

Yes, the orangish dashboard lights.

All the lights and all the whistles. I loved that car.

I was always a huge Z fan myself. Then they stopped making them in 1996. Then they came out six years later with the 350ZX, which was similar to an Audi TT or the Infinity coupe, so the Nissan Z no longer made a statement

Back in its day and time, it was the sexiest car on the road.

No question. It threw its hair back and said, ‘Look at me, baby.’

It was so cool. To be honest with you, I liked driving it at night because of that orange light.

Was yours an automatic or a stick?

It was an automatic. It was so cool.

What color was it?

I’m thinking it was a cranberry, like a reddish cranber­ry-

Did it have burgundy cloth interior?

It was burgundy! I also remember that car so well because, when I took it to the car wash, it smelled great and was clean. It smelled great, like a strawber­ry!

Sugar Ray Leonard was a genteel, relaxed, awesome man. He was so easy to talk to. To his kids, he’s Papa. He’s a devoted husband to his wife and, surprise surprise, into the Green movement. Here is one of the greatest boxers of all time – wealthy and affluenta happy family man who drives a Smart Carl Go figure. Hard to believe his punch could literally kill a man. He could have been the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time. He had the fastest hands and the quickest feet. I’ll never forget this interview. Frankly, when we got to the questions about the cars, it was just like I was talking shop with an old friend.

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Barbara Terry interview with J.T. Holmes

  1. J. T. Holmes is a bit of a thrill seeker, you might say; that is, if you think base jumping off mountains with a parachute and a pair of skis sounds thrilling. Or how about base jumping with a parachute off the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada, the first-ever ski base jump off a skyscraper. The reality is that J.T. is a world-class-level skier who has a love of heights, speed and thrills. He has transformed the sport of skiing, and has caught the attention of youth devoted to BMX and the craziness of the X Games. He has made a number of ski films and has performed countless stunts and dangerous feats to the delight of many.

What was your first car?

My first car was a ’92 Nissan Pathfinder.

Was it the two-door or the four-door model?

The four-door. That was the first car that I had, after my dad and my sister and stuff. The first car I ever had that I got myself and fell in love with was a ’79 Ranchero.

That is very cool and unique. Tell me about this ride.

Yeah. It was silver. It was a utility car. I was into dirt biking backthen and it was great for that type of thing. I had it for a little while, and it was a good car.

Did you abuse it at all?

Not really. I purchased it for $2,100 and I sold it for $1,800.

Another athlete who knows how to buy and sell their cars!

You should be a used car salesman!

Yeah. I’m also a good driver, I guess.

If driving off mountains and buildings is good, I thought.

I hear you do some off-road racing.

My dad and I have raced Baja Bugs in the 516 class. Seems like forever, now.

Something I know a thing or two about! Cool!!! I didn’t know you did that when I contacted you. What class do you and your dad race in?

Now we have a 7200 truck. That one’s fast and fun, definitely a big step up from the 516 class. It’s a ton of fun. It’s something I hope to do someday after becom­ing financially sussessful enough to do it on my own. It’s out of my league right now.

It costs a lot of money. Even when you sit down and do your budgets and you get your sponsors to pay, then you get down to race and discover all of the additional expenses.

Exactly. I can only imagine.

When you were a kid growing up, were there any posters on your wall that sported a Porsche or a Ferrari?

Actually, no. I was really fascinated by skiing, and rad pro skiers and their lifestyle and whatnot. There was a shot of a pro skier name Brad Holmes with a motorcy­cle. He was riding it through a fence with his skis on a makeshift ski rack. That was one poster semi-vehicle- -oriented. My dad is a big vehicle guy. He loves Ferraris, but I didn’t really inherit that as far as posters on the wall and dreaming of someday owning some­thing.

The hand-me-down Pathfinder, whose vehicle was that before it was yours?

My sister’s. I have an older sister.

Okay, and you were how old before you got your license?

Sixteen.

Do you have any funny stories before you got your license?

No, but I got a hell of a speeding ticket nine days after I got my license. It was a bad one…like 90 in a 45 or something.

Uh-oh. Did your parents know about it and was there a punishment handed down?

They were quite upset. And I actually didn’t have…my dad hadn’t given me the Pathfinder yet. He never really gave it to me. I used it in high school, but I had to wait on the Pathfinder. That speeding ticket delayed having the Pathfinder handed to me.

What kind of cars do you currently have now?

Now I have a ’70 Beetle and a ’97 F350.

Did you restore your Beetle?

The Beetle is an ongoing restoration project. It’s been get­ting improved for six or so years.

Just what is the history of this infamous Beetle? Where did it come from?

From my mom’s side. The thing about that side, the Portellos, if you graduated college, he would get you a Beetle.

(LAUGHTER) What, was he German?

He thought they were practical. The four girls all graduat­ed, and my mom and her sister all had Beetles and her brothers had none. My mom’s was light blue and it was our family car. My dad used it. My mom drove it to Boston when he was in college. My first memories are in that car. When my dad graduated from medical school, he sold my mom’s Beetle. She was so crushed. She cried buckets. And my dad, being brash as he can be, said, ‘Oh, get over it. It was a POS car for this POS town.’

So he didn’t like Boston?

Uhm, no. I don’t think he liked the weather. He was a skier. It’s cold and the skiing isn’t that great out there.

No, there’s not much skiing in Bahstahn, but there’s pahk- ing the cah!

(LAUGHTER). Yes, well, finally she got over it. She had set her sights on her sister’s Beetle, which was being neglect­ed. She took the Beetle off of her hands, but never really had the time or the money to put into it. By then, my par­ents were divorced.

Did they get divorced over the Beetle? Was that the root of the problem?

Actually, that didn’t help. One thing led to another and my dad said, ‘Cool, a Beetle. Can I have it?’ My mom wouldn’t do that, but she didn’t know how or have time to fix it up. I was able to get it running and drive it around, but I didn’t have the money to restore it. So, my mom gave it to my dad and said he could never have the title and he’d have to give it to me. He got the ball rolling and I fell in love with the car. I got it for my birthday several years ago and I’ve slowly restoring it. Put an engine in it last May, which helped because the stock engine…up here, it’s dangerous to have insufficient horsepower.

How fast can you get it up to now?

I can go 65 on the freeway.

Is that the fastest you’ve gone with it?

I might push it to 75.

(LAUGHTER). Oooooh. That’s fast.

For that car, it is. I might push it when no one’s looking.

How do you control such a beast? (LAUGHS)

She just runs on love.

And her name?

Rosebud.

Rosebud derives from?

My grandfather who bought the car in 1970 was Norman Portello, but everyone called him Bud.

Is there some Italian going on there?

Yes.

Okay, so speeding tickets. Obviously you don’t get them in the Beetle, but did you learn your lesson with that first big one or are you still a bad boy?

Oh yes, I get speeding tickets. All too often. I’m sure you hear this from most of the athletes.

Are you really good at driving a stick? Are you stick talented?

I’m a good driver, but I occasionally grind gears. It’s an interesting clutch in Rosebud. To sum it up…I am a real pro at driving stick!

How many cars have you owned from the get-go?

Not many. The two that I own now and the ’79 Ranchero. That’s it.

Do you have your sights set on something now, like a wide-body Turbo Porsche?

No. I’m not really sports car-oriented because I can­not afford the speeding tickets. I like four-wheel- drive cars for up here. The Bug handles well in the snow with some weight in the front. The tires hold because the engine’s over them. I might get some­thing one day. My truck is like a beast of burden. If I’m loading a snowmobile into it or something and I dent it, whatever.

Oops. So it’s a work truck, not a show or city truck?

Yeah. I drive it, actually, fairly seldom. Around here, this is my little valley and I drive the Bug. When it’s time to go on a road trip with a bunch of guys and a bunch of gear, I take the truck.

What are your thoughts on this whole Green movement? Would you ever own a Hybrid?

Yeah, sure, but the thing about a Hybrid is, it wouldn’t serve me well. Up here in the mountains, it’s mostly for stop and go driving. I’ve driven a Hybrid up here, but it won’t function on the electrical part of the engine at all.

How many miles do you typically drive every year?

It depends on the year. Some years I’ve road-tripped a lot. Some years I went down to Reno for college. I’ve had to go 25,000 some years, but now my ski career is taking me more on airplanes, so I’d say I average about 15,000 miles per year.

Speaking of your ski career, what direction is that going in?

I’m in with something called the Free Ride World Tour, which is a fairly elite competition circuit for what I do-big mountain skiing. People might call it extreme skiing but it’s steep mountains and cliffs and steep cliff jumps. That will take me to Russia, where the Olympics will be in 2014, to France, then there’s a stop here in Squaw Valley and after­wards is a final in Switzerland.

So, are you competing in the Olympics?

No, it’s not an Olympic sport.

What is the steepest jump you’ve done?

Without a parachute, 140 feet, which was double the pre­vious jumps I’d done. The conditions were just perfect. It was one of those days, I could see from here to there, no problem. I landed soft and safe. I am not going to say that I will never do it again, but I would be surprised if I ever jump another 140-foot cliff again without a parachute.

So is that (sticking tongue firmly in cheek) what they call freebasing? (LAUGHTER)

Uhm, no.

You just have to freebase to get the nerves up to do a base jump?

Yeah. That’s where I get my courage. (LAUGHS)

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re cruising in Rosebud?

There is no music in there.

What about your truck? Do you have an eight-track in it?

My Ranchero did. Yes, it came with a pile of them. The Doobie Brothers was my favorite.

Speaking of off-road racing, going back a bit believe me, I know it’s expensive, do you plan on going full-time? Like doing a full season of points racing?

It’s more of a hobby. My uncle races a lot more than my dad and I. He races in the class 7SX. It’s more affordable so he can race more often. He’s won points in the past few years in SCORE.

Have you ever had any bad accidents?

Yes. Skiing is bad on the knees. I’ve had three knee surger­ies, which is fairly typical for a skier.

What about in cars, any accidents?

Most of my accidents happen in reverse. I back into things.

You just put it in reverse and don’t look?

I’ve never done much damage, but I did bang my mom’s Volvo up onetime pulling out of a 7-11. Never totaled a car. I rolled a couple off-road vehicles. I have a fairly good safety driving record.

On the road you are safe, on the skis you are a different story.

I pay attention to distance in a car. I leave a lot of space between myself and other drivers.

If a car could be the perfect woman, which car would be that perfect woman?

(LAUGHS). I should have studied these questions.

Like a Ferrari is fast and sleek. Rosebud is slow and clas­sic.

Maybe a Volvo, because they’re reliable, safe, fast, fun to drive and pretty good-looking.

So you like to play it safe in relationships?

I’m a rookie. I haven’t had lots of relationships.

When you started dating, any funny stories involving a car and a girl?

I’m sure there is. I’m trying to remember, but nothing is jumping out.

Any kind of road trip that you like to take?

Yes. We have what we call Base Safari, or Basefari, where me and a bunch of guys all have our base gear and we just go for 10 days. We’ll fly to Munich and rent a car, like an Audi A 6, which is bigger and fun to drive. We just kind of cruise around and see Europe. We have outlandish destinations…take a cable car and go on a hike and all of a sudden you’re in some new little town and you have to find your way back.

Sounds fun. Why not rent the Volvo? (LAUGHTER) Tell me about this wing suit. How long have you been the wing suit man? How did you learn about it?

I started wing suit flying in 2004, off of mountains. In 2003,1 started playing with them out of airplanes. Two- thousand two was when I started parachuting at all. It changed my life. I dove right into this sport, tried lots of different aspects of it. The wing suit really appealed to me because it was a way of flying and I think everyone has dreams of flying.

My first suit did not fit, my second was taken by the police before I learned how to fly, then my third one was right. When I got it, I just flew and knew this was it. Like when you get in a car you’ve never driven before and it’s familiar in some way. This red wing suit is what I use today. It handles predictably. It doesn’t have too much power, but what you need. It’s a fasci­nating sport. Right now it’s escalating because, in this sport, the equipment has been improving a lot the past few years. Athletes have been doing things people thought were never possible. It’s a lot like where ski­ing was in the late ’90s, when they came out with wing-tip skis and parabolic skis. Every year you’d see ski movies with people doing stuff you’d never seen before.

Do you wing suit here or abroad?

Mostly abroad. There are some places to fly wing suits in California and the western states, but not much. Needless to say, I spend most of my money on plane tickets abroad.

Do you want to say anything about your friend, Shane McConkey?

I miss him. As far as cars are concerned, Shane real­ly affected me because he was a very successful man who drove a very humble vehicle for many years. He always bought with practicality and never had any bling or shine. He has influenced me to be practical with my money. As you know, being a professional athlete, it’s often a short career and it’s important to save and watch your money. Rosebud is a little bit of a soft spot because I have a soft spot in my heart for her. If she needs something, I buy it for her, but if you look at the big picture, it’s practical.

So Rosebud is not just a piece of metal to you. She is an investment and a part of the family.

Yeah. It’s an investment. And it’s not a piece of jewel­ry. That car drives me all around, □

Can anyone sayExtreme” I found J. T. to be about as down-to-earth as they make ’em. I had a blast interviewing him and I know Catherine loved the snow-capped photo backdrop that Reno, Nevada had to offer that morning. I mean, who has the oomph to jump off cliffs with a zipped- on wing suit without showing any fear!? I enjoyed getting a chance to pick J.T.’s brain about his love of things on either two or four wheels instead of two skis.

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Barbara Terry interview with Natalie Gulbis

Natalie Gulbis has been a golfing phenom since an early age, introduced to the sport before she was five years old. She played her first LPGA event as an amateur at the tender age of 14 and joined the tour as a pro at 18 while attending college. She’s also a part-time model and builds motorcycles with her dad. She has a love of trucks, big cars and classic muscle cars.

What was your first car?

My first car was an ’83 Ford Bronco. It was in college, my second semester. My parents bought me the Bronco.

What color was it?

Navy blue exterior with a tan interior. It was an Eddie Bauer and I loved it. I’ve always liked big trucks and cars.

Was it a full-size Bronco?

Yes. Then, when I turned professional, I bought a Tahoe. A 1999 two-door Chevy Tahoe.

Do you play for the most part now?

Yes, now I just fly. It’s so International. We play more outside the United States than we do inside the United States.

Your two-door Tahoe, did it have a cloth or leather interior?

Cloth. Bright red, big rims, it was really tall. I felt safe in it. I’ve always felt safe in big cars and trucks.

I wondered what happened to it, she seemed to like it so much.

I love those. Great choice.

The next car I bought was on eBay. It was a Harley Davidson truck, a 100th year anniversary truck. I was obsessed with it. It was silver and black. I looked everywhere for it for about four to five months, then found it on eBay. I flew my dad out to Texas and he drove it back to Vegas. I still have it.

That’s awesome!

Yes. This is actually the first car I’ve had, the Lexus you are shooting today. I’ve had trucks for eight years of being professional; I’ve had an Escalade and an Expedition. I would just keep on changing out big cars and big trucks. I would take my car out on the road to tournaments, but now I won’t. Now we have an International schedule. I used to drive to all of the tour­naments, so I always had a big vehicle.

And you sold it?

Yep.

Ouch.

I kind of turn them over. Sell them or give them to fam­ily, but turn them over.

Do you like leasing or owning your vehicles?

Owning.

Because of the equity factor or the fact that the vehi­cle is yours and you can do whatever you want to with it?

So I don’t have to make another payment!

Hi

(LAUGHTER) Yes, that’s a good thing. How old were you when you got your driver’s license?

I was 16. My parents couldn’t afford to get me a car, so I went to college without one. In my second semester, my parents surprised me with a car for my birthday. That was my 18th birthday. I was a freshman.

What do you drive now?

Now I have a Lexus 350is, which is the car you’re shooting today.

Awesome. How long have you had the Lexus?

A few months. I just sold an Escalade and got it.

How well do you like being in a smaller vehicle?

I love it. It’s so fun having a car. I can’t believe how easy it is to buzz around in it.

It’s easier, but different, if you’re used to sitting up high in trucks. It’s a different feeling. When you used to travel going to tournaments, what was your favorite road trip?

My favorite city in the United States is Los Angeles. I’m from Sacramento, California, but I love L.A. I pretty much like driving all over the U.S. I’ve been cross-country, prob­ably, five times. I spent a lot of time on the road. I’ve been on the road since I was 14 playing in tournaments.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes. And now the Lexus that I have has the paddle, so I learned how to drive with the paddle shifter. It’s so much easier than a stick. I learned howto drive a stick a couple years ago. I had a TV show on The Golf Channel and my dream car at that time was a Dodge Viper. I said I wouldn’t buy a sports car until I learned how to drive a stick, so my producers on the show surprised me and brought me a Viper for a weekend, and it was a stick. They actually set it up because they wanted to shoot me learning to drive a stick. I drove it around Vegas all week­end, stalling it out. It was fun. That’s how you learn, though. Usually, you don’t learn on a Viper.

So you were grinding the clutch…screeeeeeeech.

Well, I was doing okay. They started to shoot and said, ‘You’re ready’ and started me out going up a hill.

Oh no.

Yeah, a big old hill.

And to learn on a hill is impossible, especially at a stoplight with a car coming up behind you. You feel like, ‘How am I going to do this?’

And I have another car, a ’68 Mustang Fastback that is in showroom condition. I keep at my parents’ house.

I wish we could have shot that! Sweet!

They don’t drive it much, maybe take it to a show if there’s one nearby. I’ve always liked the old classic Mustangs.

Is it all original or has it been restored?

No, it’s been restored and we put some extra bells and whistles on it.

How long have you had the Mustang?

Five years, but I only drive it when I go home to Sacramento. My parents make sure that it’s kept up because I’m not home very much. I’m on the road 90 percent of the time.

How many miles does it have on it?

About 18,000, not many.

What color is it?

Bright red, Ferrari red. I’m going to put white stripes, racing stripes, over the top next time I go home. I used to go to car shows all the time. You go to different cities, you get to see different cars.

Oh, yeah, get different ideas on how to restore clas­sics. What’s your favorite color combination with cars?

I tend to buy black cars over and over again. I like the blue Viper with the white racing stripes. Definitely, the Mustang I’m putting those stripes on, but I’ve tended to buy black cars for the last seven or eight years.

When you were a teenager, before you got your dri­ver’s license, you probably thought about cars and thought, “Wow I’d like this.’ What was that dream car? Was it a Lamborghini, was it a truck with big rims? What really caught your attention?

A white Lamborghini with tan interior where the doors went up. And I thought the Camaros looked like that — had the same slant, and looked like it. I thought one day I could realistically get that when I became a pro golfer, but I didn’t. Then I set a standard and decided that when I won my first tournament, I would buy a Viper. In 2007, when I did (win), I threw a big party, but I’m not home enough to feel I can have a car like that. Maybe one day, when my life slows down a little bit. I go to car shows, and they have great Lamborghinis and Ferraris at the museum here in Las Vegas.

Isn’t there a Ferrari dealership in one of the hotels here?

Ferrari is inside the Wynn and Lamborghini is inside the Palazzo, but I love classic cars. One of the maga­zines I get when I travel is the Du Pont Registry. Many athletes love classic cars. My favorite part of Cribs is when they show the cars.

(LAUGHTER) Yeah, it’s funny. When I started this book, I didn’t want all spectacular cars. I wanted some different cars, like Sugar Ray Leonard has a Smart Car out in LA. He’s driving this little bitty white Smart Car all over Los Angeles, it’s hilarious. It’s cool, though. What about car accidents? Ever had a car accident?

No. No car accidents, no speeding tickets, knock on wood.

No speeding tickets?

Nope, no tickets. I do not think I have ever even gotten a parking ticket.

Have you ever been pulled over and talked your way out of a speeding ticket?

One time. I was on my way to the airport about 4:30 one morning to get on a plane to go play a tournament in Singapore, and the officer said, ‘Natalie, where are you going so fast?’ I told him I had to catch a plane to Singapore and he let me go with a warning.

That was nice of him.

Yes. My management team, I think, currently has an over/under on when I’m going to get a ticket in my Lexus.

Would you ever own a hybrid?

Yes, absolutely. I think the next car I get will be a hybrid. They used to be so small, but now that you have choices. I’ll probably get a Lexus hybrid. They’re beautiful and so quiet.

They’re sweet yes. What kind of music do you listen to when you are driving?

A combination. I like classic rock and top 40. Now that I have satellite and regular FM, I’m always changing. It’s easy with a touch screen.

How many cars do you think you’ve owned throughout your life?

Twelve.

That’s pretty sweet. Have you ever looked at another golfer’s car and thought you might need to get what they have?

No. I never see the other golfers’ cars, but I do see celebri­ties’ cars on TV. All tricked out. I just saw on the last Cribs, Kim Kardashian had a white Range Rover with white seats with pink trim, and pink on the rims iLAUGHTER) ..yeah, but it was custom and it would be nice to have custom stuff.

Leading right into my next question. Speaking of custom, what do you like to modify on your cars when you get them straight from the factory? Is it rims you want first or an upgraded stereo system? What do you find that you’re not happy with completely, as far as factory goes?

I like to upgrade everything. I like it supercharged. I like to change the brakes, put all high-performance stuff on, high-performance tires with the biggest rims that I can fit, but still make manage. I have never had bigger than 22 inches, but I’ve seen them. Definitely leather seats. If I can fit TVs in there somewhere…I’ve always had SUVs, so I had TVs in the back for group travel with a pile of DVDs.

Well, with that you know that they are sitting in the back seat and occupied. They’re entertained while you are driving.

Now, a navigation system. I don’t know how you can travel without a navigation system. I used to have my little Garmin, but now I get navigation systems in the car. Tinted windows. You know, Nevada is more lenient than most states. You can get the windows tint­ed very dark here, but then if you drive that car in California… ticket! You have to be pretty careful, being as different states have different regulations. Now I take off all the logos, too, all except for the one Cadillac symbol. I like a clean look.

How fast have you driven in a car?

Donald Trump let me take his Ferrari out at a tourna­ment a few years ago, and I’d say 150 or 160.

Was that on the Long Island Expressway?

No, it was in West Palm Beach. He’d just gotten a new Ferrari, and for our tour championship, we got to stay at his hotel and we got to play at his golf course. He has beautiful cars, and a friend and I got his car for a night. I’d like to drive on a track once. I know they have a racing track here in Vegas, and I’d like to do that one time. You know, where you can actually take a car out on a track.

If you ever want to go to one of my off-road races, let me know. I’ll take you.

Really? Do they have them here?

Yeah. I just did the Vegas To Reno back in August. The way the course was mapped out it came out to be

What!!!

Yeah. Not on the road, but up in the mountains, on the sides of cliffs doing 80. We raced the Ford Raptor truck, the only Raptor they modified for racing. Off- road is fun, but it’s not very glamorous. If you don’t mind eating dirt for a few days…

Okay, speaking of your Tahoe, it was lifted. Did you put the lift kit on it?

I bought it that way.

What do you have going on right now, or what is your favorite charity?

This year, I got to be on Celebrity Apprentice, which was fun because I got to play for my favorite charity. The Boys & Girls Club. Now that the off-season is here, I have more time to spend here and in Sacramento where my parents live, and I’ll spend more time with the kids here and there. I’ve got great sponsors. My largest sponsor is Addidas. (Others are) Taylor Made, Cannon, Outback Steak House, Mastercard, 24 Hour Fitness, Sky Golf and Winn Grips, which are two golf companies. I do stuff with Addidas Eyewear. I got to design an Addidas shoe for 2010. That was exciting.

That’s cool. When does it come out and where?

In January, I think all over the world. You always have a dream of having a shoe.

(LAUGHTER) Yeah. Why did you choose Vegas?

I chose Vegas because my coach is here. Butch Harmon lives in Vegas. I came across this area of Lake Las Vegas, which doesn’t have the feel of Vegas. You have a man-made lake, beautiful homes and a sense of community. You’re a half an hour away from the strip and anything and everything you could imagine. There’s great concerts, spas, restaurants and shop­ping.

An international airport

Yes. There’s a lot more to Vegas than just the strip. You can go hiking in Red Rock. There’s skiing a half-hour from here.

Great spas.

(LAUGHTER) Yes. I would love to check out every spa in every hotel.

That’d be a book in itself.

Yes. It would make a great TV show. Get paid to do it and order every treatment on the menu.

Tell me about your motorcycle.

One of my favorite toys that I built with my dad is a custom bike. It’s beautiful. It has caricatures of me and my dad, and it is a retro baby blue. They actually had it on display at Treasure Island. They’ve shown it across the country at different motorcycle shows and now it’s at home. One day, I’d like to have a room where you can have it up on display.

You don’t ride it?

No, it’s too beautiful. My dad rides it when my parents come to visit me here in Vegas. It was on display for almost a year on the strip.

That’s neat. Have you ever had a bike you rode a bunch?

No. Being on tour, you cannot really take chances. Yes, you have to be extra careful with the body.

I was excited to meet Natalie knowing that she was not only an accomplished athlete, but a lover of horsepower. She was gracious, sweet and inviting/ A hot lady that knows her cars!


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