No joke: James Jakes is in a real Acorn Stairlifts ad

1 Comment

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s James Jakes has been much improved this year in this, his third season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. So much so, in fact, I called him the “Most Improved First-Half Driver” in MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar midseason review.

So I knew his on-track form was good, but I didn’t know he had any acting ability in him. Until I saw this commercial.

You may have seen it during NBC Sports Network’s coverage of both Honda Indy Toronto races, but Jakes is now appearing in an ad for his sponsor Acorn Stairlifts.

It does its best “Driven” imitation by starting in Long Beach’s pit lane, then shifting to Indianapolis, and then into some random commercial house where “Jakesy” can take off his helmet, install an Acorn Stairlift, then teleport back to Indy with his helmet on and drive off.

Now, there’s been something of a running joke in IndyCar circles that until this year, Jakes was IndyCar’s version of “The Stig.”  You rarely, if ever, heard him speak on TV, and it was just as rare that he had his helmet off to expose his sharp, blonde hair.

So the commercial could have played to that a little better if Jakes didn’t lose his helmet at one point or another. And hell, it is funny to note that Acorn Stairlifts doesn’t even mention Jakes by name – instead, just having his name next to an RLL logo on the bottom of the screen at the end of the ad.

All that said, Jakes has been something of a revelation this year because his pace has been staggering – he’s beat his more heralded teammate Graham Rahal in qualifying for seven of the last nine races – and the more you hear him talk, the more you realize how sharp he is. It makes his fan club – “Jakesy Nation” – all the smarter for picking up on all he has to offer before the rest of us.

And now he has 30 seconds of glory, albeit back in his Stig-like state of anonymity.

Dodge to celebrate 50th anniversary of Hemi motor at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Leave a comment

When this year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals plays out from August 29 through September 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a lot of folks are going to be channeling one of the most famous lines in motorsports:

“Hey, that thing got a Hemi?”

Dodge and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday – on National Hemi Day, no less – announced that it will celebrate the Hemi’s 50th anniversary of Super Stock cars with the 18th annual Dodge Hemi Challenge during the U.S. Nationals.

Cars that will take part in the Challenge will be 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda cars – “The most iconic of the Mopar package cars,” touted a Dodge press release – in a head-to-head battle.

The Dart and Barracuda were purpose built for use solely on a drag strip. The 23 entrants in the Challenge will drive their personally owned versions of the ’68 ‘Cuda and Dart.

The winner of the Challenge – which will be held August 30-31 – will take home a $15,000 purse, while cash rewards will be available for all 16 drivers that qualify for final eliminations.

“The Dodge brand is proud to serve as title sponsor of the NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge, an event that spotlights the legacy and power of the 426 HEMI engine,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America.

Beahm added, “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock cars that debuted back in 1968 and are still competing today, which makes our support of this edition of the HEMI Challenge extra special.”

One special incentive for contestants is the 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy, created in the spirit of the 426 (cubic inch) HEMI engine.

Jimmy Daniels has won the Challenge the last two years and goes for a three-peat in this year’s race within a race. His father, Jim Daniels, won the race in 2010.

The Challenge’s all-time winningest driver is Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Michigan, who captured the Challenge in six different years: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Follow @JerryBonkowski