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High Speed Dreams

Cigar Aficionado's Contributing Editor Drives One of the World's Hottest Race Cars--and Survives
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96

(continued from page 5)

Michael Konik is a contributing editor of Cigar Aficionado.

High-Speed Actor

While at the Grand Prix of Atlanta, studying the techniques of Nissan drivers Steve Millen and Johnny O'Connell, I ran into an aspiring racer better known for his off-track occupation: Craig T. Nelson, star of the hit ABC sitcom Coach, now in its eighth season.

When not portraying football coach Hayden Fox, Nelson, owner-driver of the Screaming Eagles racing team, spends 13 weekends a year driving a 550-plus horsepower Lexus-powered World Sports Car and a 610-horsepower Oldsmobile-Spice World Sports Car, the International Motor Sports Association's fastest class. "I was sheerly a fan until I had the time and money," he says. "I needed something more physical, more active than golf. More difficult. I guess it was sort of a midlife crisis."

Nelson discovered his obsession with speed during a pro-celebrity race in 1991. Since then he's worked steadily up the miles-per-hour ladder, graduating to 190-and-above territory. "Mastering a race car is a slow learning curve," Nelson says. "Sort of like acting school."

Dilettante to dilettante, I asked Nelson if he ever feels like he ought to be back in a television studio, leaving the rubber-burning to the professionals. Does this racing business ever frighten him? "The fear scares the crap out of you," he says, laughing. "Everybody feels it. Everybody sometimes thinks, 'I can't do it.' When the fear becomes paralytic, that's when you're in trouble. All you can do is get seat time, watch others do it better and gird yourself for the next level, for the next brick wall."

--MK


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