I first heard the news of James Garner's death during the rebroadcast of the German Grand Prix upon NBCSN this past Sunday during the Pre-race show, as it was eluded to during thy 'Wee Willie Buxom's (Will Buxton) interview with another Hollywood entertainer turned 'Mega motor racing Geek "Dr. McDreamy," aka Patrick Dempsey, who was on hand at Hockenheim whilst participating in the Porsche Supercup race this weekend.
As for Mwah, Garner was always one of the "Cool Guys," albeit thee Anthesis 'O COOL for me and many others will always be Steve McQueen, for which I caught the bug unknowingly when having found an iconic Le Mans movie poster featuring McQueen in that revered blue Gulf liveried Uni' (uniform) as a teenager, before I even knew anything about motorsports in general.
But as Leigh Diffey eluded to later during the race broadcast 'bout having grown up with The Rockford Files, (1974-80) which I fondly recall watching over the years, both live 'N re-runs, as its even still available on my local "ME TV" channel - as the fictional Jim Rockford drove one of the hottest "Muscle Cars" of the mid-1970's, a NARLY' gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit... As how many of those cars do Yuhs think GM sold due to that show's popularity?
As interestingly, reportedly Garner was given a brand new Firebird each season of the show, albeit didn't like the looks of the 1979 Esprit redesign and ran his '78 model for the show's final two seasons instead.
Yet as cool as Jimmy Rockford was, for Mwah, the Narliest Car chase scene of all-time will forever be Steve McQueen's ultra BAD ARSE romp thru the streets of San Francisco aboard his 1968 Mustang in Bullitt!
And whilst I knew of Garner playing the lead role in the epic 1966 Grand Prix movie, as was I-T really nearly eight years ago when I watched it in its entirety for the first time on the Speed channel? Which I scribbled 'bout in;
As another comment Messer Diffey made on-air that I was totally unaware of was the fact that Garner had owned his own racing team, which was called American International Racers, which apparently ran in then the B-I-G 3' Endurance races, i.e.; Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. As DAMN! 'Ol "Pete Aron" (James Garner) sure picked the perfect trio of iconic Sports Car races to contest! As wonder if he did so in regards to current day Hollywood racer Patrick Dempsey's screen career forbidding him from driving in open cockpit cars? As surely the studios don't want Dempsey messin' up his hair, right? Hooah!
TheJames Garner American International Racing 1968 Corvettes
Whilst I was also unawares of the fact that Jimmy Rockford had driven the Pace-car at Mother Speedway not once, but three times, leading the field at Indianapolis in 1975, 1977 and 1985.
Yet I suppose for many, he'll most likely be better remembered for his acting, then racing exploits, as I've also never seen his documentary film The Racing Scene, (1970) as I suspect the majority of "Mainstream" America remembers him from Maverick and The Rockford Files, although for reasons unknown, another film of his I've never seen sticks in my craw, that being the film victor Victoria which he played opposite Julie Andrews in 1982.
And thus, another 'Mega successful Hollywood star, who along with the legendous' Paul Newman and Steve McQueen has taken the chequered flag...