The man guarding Jay Leno's Garage

1y ago

2.6K

About four years (and twenty kilos) ago, I had an opportunity to go to Los Angeles with my colleague, Sipos. Given that LA is pretty much the automotive capital of the world (sorry Detroit), I didn't hesitate for a second. Being a certified daydreamer, my first idea was to check out Jay Leno's Garage. Maybe even do an interview with the man. How hard can it be? The answer is very. Long story short, this was the result:

If you are interested, it is out there. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. When we arrived to the garage, we were greeted by a gentleman called Bob Sales, Leno's long-time colleague. He was really kind, though very distant at first. I couldn't blame him. Two weird looking Eastern Europeans show up, claiming they have permission to roam around in a garage that is not open for the public. At first, Bob insisted that we sit with him in his golf cart, and absolutely no pictures! We've convinced him we won't break anything, and he allowed us to walk next to the cart. I must admit, we needed pictures, which were actually sort of agreed upon with Jay's producer beforehand, but that was not enough at that very moment. I felt a bit guilty, but I started distracting Bob with questions about some of the cars. I could not have succeeded with my evil scheme had Bob not possess something precious: passion. For the garage, for the cars and for him being their caretaker. The emphasis and pride with which he said 'supercharged' still gives me shivers.

My colleague, Sipos and Bob

"Where's your colleague?" he asked. I was supposed to say "Busy filming in secret", but instead I said "He's right there. Is that '63 Chevy?" and Bob immediately turned to the car started telling its story. After a couple of questions, Bob realized what I was doing. He started laughing, then made me promise I'll sort the permissions of using some of the pictures with Jay, and his producer, Helga. From that point onwards, Bob was like a long lost uncle. A kind, gentle soul, with whom we could talk about anything and everything, but especially spark plugs. He asked me if there were any made in Hungary. One of the first things I did when I got back to Budapest was finding one to send to him. I did so. I hope he received it.

I cannot be more grateful to him. Visiting Jay's garage and interviewing him, to this day is one of the highlights of my career and has a special place among my most cherished memories. I associate them in most to Bob. I've recently learned, that he passed away. I hope he's had a full and happy life. He deserved one.

Thank you Bob! Rest in peace.

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