Tony Hawk's IndyCar racing debut
The Birdman gets in the driver's seat this weekend in Long Beach.
I'm inclined to agree with Nesser. From Hawk's 30-plus-year reign as one of the top skaters in the world, his being the first to nail the 900, his many brand endeavors, his reclaiming and resurrecting of Birdhouse Skateboards, his cameo in "Gleaming The Cube," having one of the most successful video game franchises ever created and countless other things, it's hard to think of anything out of reach for The Birdman.
The next addition to that ever-growing list? Automobile racing. Hawk is competing in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix -- an IndyCar race on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., that is the highlight of Friday through Sunday events -- alongside celebrities such as Keanu Reeves (Ted in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"), Christian Slater (fellow "Gleaming the Cube" cast member) and Brian Austin Green (that dude from "90210"). Hawk is all up in there, and he might let me ride shotgun and DJ.
ESPN.com: What happened to your Jeep sponsorship? Are you sponsored by Toyota now?
Tony Hawk: My Jeep sponsorship ended around the same time as the auto bailout. Coincidence? I think not. But I understand. I am not sponsored by Toyota, but my past Jeep connection prevented me from entering the Toyota race. Now I'm a free agent. You hear that, Lexus?
Toyotas are smaller cars and you're 9 feet tall. Do you have to sit in the back seat to drive?
Not quite, but I do have the seat all the way back. And I can easily reach the stick.
How did you get into the racing thing?
I got invited to do a couple of NASCAR events over the last few years. Once I got behind the wheel, I knew I would take every opportunity to do it in the future. It is addicting.
How fast can you get the car up to?
About 110 on the longest straightaway in Long Beach, but the car could handle more if I got on an open road.
Who's faster, you or Bucky [Lasek]?
Uh ... my car is faster. But we haven't formally raced. Bucky definitely has more time on the racetracks.
I see Keanu Reeves is in the race. Does he drive as slow as he talks?
No, he's good. In fact, he won last year, and that means he has to start with the pro racers (30 seconds behind the celebrities).
Ever think about making a hard right just to bum people out?
It's funny because you can definitely be a jerk out there and get away with it for the most part. But people get pissed. I don't want to be the guy that threw someone into the wall just to take them out.
Can you do the 900 in a Toyota?
No, but I did pull out of a 270 during training in Willow Springs.
Have you been practicing your Tokyo drifts?
Yes, a bit, but drifting will slow your lap time down. I'd rather be sitting on the pole, so to speak.
Think you could Tokyo drift into a parallel park?
Nah, but I did get to pull a couple of Rockfords on the skid pad.
Are you planning on retiring from skateboarding to be a pro race car driver?
Not a chance.
What do you think your chances of winning are?
Well, some Vegas oddsmaker put me at 27-1. But I'm a dark horse. Shake and bake, baby!
Think they'd let me ride shotgun?
I would. Just jump in right before the green flag drops. You can control the stereo.