Cars and Stars: the James Garner edition

signaling a turn in his Radford Mini CooperIn this edition of Cars and Stars, we remember a genuine car guy and a genuine human being, James Garner. 

 

 

Most every auto enthusiast knows that actor James Garner, who passed away at his Brentwood, California home Saturday, was a devoted car guy and a serious racer. What’s surprising, perhaps, is how many people in the automotive community were personally touched by Garner, it turns out. Or maybe that’s not so surprising at all.

In his travels throughout the motorsports world—operating his own race teams, or in his countless appearances at racing events, including the Indy 500, where he served as pace car driver three times—Garner was unfailingly humble and gracious. “Hi, I’m Jim Garner, ” he’d say, and offer his right hand. “Nice to meet you.” He was that easy to know, that easy to like. In remembering his passing, everyone in the car world seems to have a fond memory of encountering Garner for the first time. He was that generous about his company, with a talent for putting people at ease.

Garner’s formal introduction to racing came when he starred as driver Pete Aron in the 1966 film Grand Prix. The character, equal parts hero and everyman, was not totally unlike his familiar role as private detective Jim Rockford in the beloved 1974-1980 television series, The Rockford Files. Rockford knew how to handle a Pontiac Firebird, and he knew how to handle himself. That was Jim Garner, too. Gallery below.

 

with 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am Kammback concept car
with Olds Baja racer 103
with his 1966 Radford Mini Cooper S
with Eva Marie Saint and Brian Bedford in Grand Prix
1968 Corvette L-88 Don Yenko War Bonnet Raceway
in The Racing Scene, a 1970 documentary
with the 1977 Indy 500 pace car
with the James Garner Special
with Jessica Walter and Brian Bedford in Grand Prix
driving a 1974 Firebird in the Rockford Files
on the set of The Great Escape with Coburn, McQueen, and Sturges
1969 Daytona 24 Hrs with Chris Economacki
with camera rig filiming Grand Prix
with Francoise Hardy in Grand Prix
at the Ferrari works in Grand Prix
fastening his helmet in Grand Prix
with Stuart Margolin in the Rockford Files
with the 1977 Oldsmobile 88 in the 1977 Indy 500
with Olds Cutlass Baja racer
driving a Firebird in the Rockford Files
signaling a turn in his Radford Mini Cooper
with Toshiro Mifune in Grand Prix
as Pete Aron in Grand Prix
driving the Yamura in Grand Prix
with Paul Newman at the 1985 Indianapolis 500

with 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am Kammback concept car

with Olds Baja racer 103

with his 1966 Radford Mini Cooper S

with Eva Marie Saint and Brian Bedford in Grand Prix

1968 Corvette L-88 Don Yenko War Bonnet Raceway

in The Racing Scene, a 1970 documentary

with the 1977 Indy 500 pace car

with the James Garner Special

with Jessica Walter and Brian Bedford in Grand Prix

driving a 1974 Firebird in the Rockford Files

on the set of The Great Escape with Coburn, McQueen, and Sturges

1969 Daytona 24 Hrs with Chris Economacki

with camera rig filiming Grand Prix

with Francoise Hardy in Grand Prix

at the Ferrari works in Grand Prix

fastening his helmet in Grand Prix

with Stuart Margolin in the Rockford Files

with the 1977 Oldsmobile 88 in the 1977 Indy 500

with Olds Cutlass Baja racer

driving a Firebird in the Rockford Files

signaling a turn in his Radford Mini Cooper

with Toshiro Mifune in Grand Prix

as Pete Aron in Grand Prix

driving the Yamura in Grand Prix

with Paul Newman at the 1985 Indianapolis 500

3 thoughts on “Cars and Stars: the James Garner edition

  1. Sorry to hear about James Garner’s passing, a real gentlemen and a man’s man

  2. That is exactly how he was. I met Mr. Garner in a hospitality suite and he treated me like his next door neighbor for the entire race. What a classy guy.

  3. I will miss “Ole Jimmy” and Rockford files is one of my favorite old shows. He was one of the oldies but goodies. I’m sad to hear he died. Another ‘end-of-an-era’. Rest In Peace! James.

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