Jack has recently moved up to a C6 from his '97 C5, and we had to know what he thought about the Corvette's newest generation of technology. He answered, "How can they improve on it? The way it handles, the way it drives, the acceleration it has-I had it 160 miles per hour on the little road that goes in front of our house here [laughter]."
A hundred and sixty miles per hour? Who's going to tell Jack LaLanne it's time to slow down? Not us.
Jack still lives the life he preaches. "I work out two hours a day, seven days a week-an hour-and-a-half of weights, another half-hour in the pool. And I change my program every 30 days to do something different. You know, because you get bored doing the same thing every day. Your body doesn't respond. You get bored. Your muscles know nothing. It's your brain, right? Exercise is something you've got to do the rest of your life. It's a lifestyle. I tell people, dying's easy. Living's a pain in the neck. You've got to work at it."
Jack keeps his youthful stamina going with body workouts and working out his Corvette. To him, it is the ultimate fun. He told us, "The Corvette is the little boy in me. You know, it's like a toy. I just love it."
Our conversation eventually turned to the subject of Jack LaLanne and motorsports. We were surprised to hear that this avid lover of life had never strapped on a Simpson five-point harness, protected his noggin under a Bell Racing safety helmet, climbed under a rollbar, and throttled at full force down an asphalt track with three tree lights beckoning his launch. Here is an excerpt:
VM: Jack, have you ever raced a sanctioned event?
VM: Never done a quarter-mile?
JL: I'd love to.
VM: If someone invited you, would you come out and do it?
JL: My wife would divorce me.
VM: Oh, come on.
JL: (Impersonating his wife) "What happened to you, Jack? Oh, my." My wife is my protector.
VM: I see.
JL: Without her, I'm nothing.
VM: If we invited you to a racetrack, do you think she'd let you come?
JL: Sure. She wants to please me, and I want to please her. We've been together over 53 years.
VM: We'd like to see you behind the wheel of a fast Corvette.
JL: I've always liked fast cars ... (pause) ... and slow women.
VM: Do you want us to keep laughing or ask the next question?
JL: Ask the next question.
VM: You really like Corvettes, don't you?
JL: If you don't like Corvettes, you don't like sex and money.
Our conversation turned back to Jack's love for street-driven Corvettes. We asked, "Do you think your new Corvette is the best Corvette you've ever owned?"
Jack answered without hesitation. He was as knowledgeable as the best Corvette salesman, and he knew it. "Oh, no doubt about it. You know what I like about it is the [ride] control. Corvettes have always had a stiff ride. Now you just push that little button, you know, and you get like a passenger-car ride. And you push the button [again], and you get like a race car. I mean they've thought of everything-all the interior and all the instruments, you can see them, they're so visible, and I don't know how you can improve upon it."
We continued with more questions. An interview with Jack LaLanne is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, after all, even for a group as jaded as the VETTE editorial staff. "Jack, what exercises do you recommend for Corvette drivers, when they are driving and to make sure they can enjoy their driving?"
Now we were on Jack's home turf. He started sounding like the TV star we know he is. "The number-one thing is straighten up in your seat," he said. "Pull your gut in and breathe deep. Take a lot of deep breaths and everything. That keeps you awake. Too many [people] sit in a car and they slump. People should straighten up, you know, and be sure your posture is good."
VM: Jack, can you lift a 3,179-pound Corvette right off the ground?
JL: I've never tried it.
VM: We know that for one of your birthdays
JL: On one of my birthdays I did 1,000 chin-ups and 1,000 push-ups. For my 70th birthday I towed 70 boats with 70 people in it, my feet and hands tied-my hands were in handcuffs, my feet were tied together-and I towed these boats a mile-and-a-half in Long Beach [Harbor]. Man, that was a stinker. For my 93rd birthday coming up, I'm going to tow my wife across the bathtub.
We were laughing so hard at this point, it was difficult to ask the next serious question. Still, Jack heard it as a kairos. It was a deciding moment in our conversation. And so we asked: "Some people say there's an age that's too young to own a Corvette, and some people say there's an age that's too old to own a Corvette. What's your answer, Jack?"
We could hear him taking on a more personal tone. It was as if his words were going out to every Corvette owner in the world. "Be young. Keep yourself young by having a good, sporty car like a Corvette. It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you young. It keeps you thinking young. It keeps you thinking modern and good things. Corvette is a modern, modern automobile."
We had one last question before our interview concluded. "Jack, what message do you want Corvette owners to know from Jack LaLanne personally?"
Even 2,700 miles away, we could hear a smile well up in his voice. "Just be proud of that car and take good care of it. Make sure you change the oil and you keep it shined and keep it clean all the time. To me, that's your personal property. That's part of you. Be proud of the Corvette, and it will do things for you."
The world sees many winners. We are pleased to have shared time with one of the best.
We'd like to thank Liz Cardenas of Befit Enterprises for coordinating our interview; Jack's wife, Elaine LaLanne, for her help in the interview; and Jack himself for sharing his love of Corvettes with VETTE readers.