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.