News Culture

Jay Leno Survives Violent Roll-Over in a Classic Wheelie-Popping Drag Racer

Sometimes checking an item off your bucket list involves nearly kicking said bucket.

In a moment of seriousness amidst his TV show’s usual joviality, Jay Leno was caught in a terrifying roll-over crash while driving with legendary drag racer Bob Riggle in an iconic 2,500-hp Hemi-powered drag racing car that leapt to fame for its ability to sprint around on two wheels.

While filming the latest episode of CNBC’s Jay Leno’s Garage, Jay stopped by California’s Irwindale Raceway to check an item off his automotive bucket list: a ride with 80-year-old, wheelie-popping racer Bob Riggle in the famous Plymouth Barracuda known as “Hurst Hemi Under Glass.” Since Jay spotted the mighty drag racing car in Ray Brock’s Hot Rod magazine in 1965, he’d dreamed about feeling the thrill of the car’s signature trick: launching forward while balancing on two wheels. Since the engine is installed in place of the rear seats, below the rear wind (hence “under glass”), the front of the car is feather-light, allowing for grandstanding wheelies.

In the video, the two white-haired men strap into their seats and helmets, settling in beneath a hearty roll-cage. At first, all seems well: The wheelie goes perfectly, the car settles back onto all four tires. Then Riggle tries to make a turn and overwhelms the front end, sending the car into a violent, pinwheeling series of flips. (Skip ahead to the 3-minute mark to see the accident if you’re in a rush.)