Comedian Norm Macdonald died on Tuesday after a private nine-year battle with cancer. The “Saturday Night Live” alumnus wasn’t a car enthusiast. In fact, he never learned how to drive. Jay Leno capitalized on that fact in a 2020 episode of Jay Leno’s Garage when he taught Macdonald how to drive in the safe environment of a racetrack. That was pretty important because Macdonald shared that he drove six times and had four accidents.
In the episode entitled “Dare to Dream,” Leno used an Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan to put Macdonald behind the wheel for the first time since he had a driver’s permit. Leno didn’t choose the 505-hp Quadrifoglio model. Instead, it was a model with the 2.0-liter turbo-4, likely a Sport based on the clover-leaf wheel design. That’s not exactly a track car, but it also wasn’t in store for much abuse.
The experience went as you might expect for a 60-year old who had never driven. All alone on California’s Willow Springs racetrack, Leno had to tell Macdonald how to start the car and which pedals were which. Macdonald started out slowly, going less than 20 mph initially, then building up to the mid 20s and then around 40 mph. Along the way, he used much of the track without any idea of what an apex is. The closed course was a wise idea.
Macdonald eventually built up to 78 mph, which he said felt like 500 mph. The most fun came next, when Leno, an experienced driver, took Macdonald for a spin at speeds up to and above 100 mph. That drew several swears and screams from the passenger seat. Throughout the video, elements of Macdonald’s droll and sometimes mumbling delivery came though.
Macdonald may not have been a car guy, but this video shows the fun that can be had behind the wheel of a car, even for a newbie. RIP, Norm.