Officials of the Tesoro Iron Dog race are abuzz about the interest one of the nation's best known motorheads has shown in the world's longest, toughest snowmobile race.
Publicists for the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" have approached the race about getting this year's winner, Marc McKenna of Anchorage, on the show next Thursday or Friday.
The host of the NBC talk show has a fascination with vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine. He collects automobiles and motorcycles and maintains a Web site -- jaylenosgarage.com.
But he's not just a collector; he's a fan.
"First and foremost, the garage is not a museum,'' the Web site says. "Jay makes his purchases not as museum pieces, but because he enjoys driving the cars and motorcycles ... all of them!
"From Stanley Steamers to Duesenbergs to McLarens, Jay and his collection are fixtures in the Southern California area and can often be spotted out for weekend rides -- and the occasional breakdown on the side of the road."
Leno does not appear to own any snowmobiles, but 100 mph crotch-rockets that can go just about anywhere there is snow would appear to be right up his interest alley.
"He's a motorhead," agreed Laura Bedard, the Iron Dog's executive director. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This would be exciting if it happens. We need some recognition."
But, "it's not in stone yet," McKenna, a local asphalt contractor, cautioned on Thursday.
"Tonight Show" staff, he said, want to make sure he's entertaining on camera, and not just some goof from the far north who sits like a chunk of ice in the chair.
McKenna said he has had discussions with people from the "Tonight Show," and they are reviewing film clips of his interviews to see how he looks on camera.
"I don't have a problem chit-chatting," he added.
He's even got an idea for pitching a television series built around the Iron Dog if he makes it to Los Angeles for the show.
Imagine a high-speed variation on The Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch'' with an even quirkier cast of charters.
Between feuding Iron Dog teams, shifting Iron Dog partnerships and fractured Iron Dog relationships, McKenna noted, there is a back story to the race almost as good as the race story about a gang of motorheads roaring across the last great American wilderness in pursuit of fun and a little fame.
Find Craig Medred online at adn.com/contact/cmedred or call 257-4588.