Hot Wheels stunt driver at Indy has local tie
By Robert Norris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A stunt driver with Blount County connections will attempt to set a world-record Sunday before the running of the centennial Indianapolis 500 as the star attraction of “Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500.”
Tanner Foust will drive a specially designed, Pro2-style truck with an 850-horsepower engine and weighing 3,500 pounds and — if all goes well — launch it into the air a world-record distance of more than 302 feet for a jump in a four-wheeled vehicle.
Before the race, the driver and truck will be lifted to the top of a 10-story-tall, 16-foot-wide ramp built on the infield near turn four of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Foust will proceed to send the vehicle roaring down the slope and soaring airborne.
Foust, who lives in Colorado, is the grandson of the late Dr. Julian and Nellie Lentz. Lentz was a longtime physician in Blount County, and he and his wife were widely known in the community.
Foust’s identity as the driver selected for the jump has not been officially confirmed but widely reported.
“Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500” is a promotion by Mattel, maker of Hot Wheels, the die-cast cars and trucks that boys played with and fantasized about as they pretended to be race and stunt drivers.
Foust doesn’t have to fantasize about stunt driving with toys, he’s a professional racing and stunt driver. He also co-hosted the Top Gear USA motoring TV show on the History Channel and has logged numerous other television appearances.
He will be performing as a member of the recently formed Team Hot Wheels, a team of mystery drivers. The jump will take place at 11:40 p.m. EDT, one hour before the green flag drops for the Indy 500 that will be broadcast by ABC.
The promotional goal is to imprint the Hot Wheels brand into the fantasy play of a whole new generation of little boys — and maybe even spark their dads to resume growing their own vintage collections. The 1:64-scale die-cast vehicles were introduced as Hot Wheels in 1968.
Viewers of the jump will note the orange ramp bears a striking resemblance to the plastic tracks used by generations of Hot Wheel fans. One big difference: The Hot Wheels track at Indy consumed more than 100 tons of steel in construction.
Here’s the ramp by the numbers:
• Slope degree: 45;
• Length of track: 1,500 feet;
• G-forces at bottom of roll-in: 3 Gs;
• Height of takeoff ramp: 16 feet;
• Height of landing ramp: 21 feet, 220 feet long.
For Foust, the Hot Wheels commercial stunt will be just one in a long line of professional stunts. Along with his television credits he has worked as a stunt double in movies such as “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Fast and the Furious” and “Iron Man 2.”
If he succeeds in setting a world record in “Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500” on Sunday, Foust will have raised his stunt fame to a whole new level.