Shaun Palmer just can’t help himself from whupping serious ass onthe racecourse. Whether it’s boardercross, skiercross, BMX, or mountain biking, this multiple SwatchBoardercross Tour, X-Games, and ISF world champion is no stranger to the champagne and silicone of thewinners’ podium.
Now you can add auto racing to the list. Palmer won the pole of the Long Beach GranPrix’s Celebrity Race during the qualifiers. Moments before the start of the celebrity race the next day-thelast warm-up before the real Gran Prix-70s teen idol and wannabe race-goon Donny Osmond honked thehorn of his souped-up Celica. Having tasted the sweet nectar of the celebrity-race championship here in1991, Donny threw down the gauntlet, exclaiming, “I’m ready to win this thing.” To which polesitter Palmercoolly replied, biting a Donny and Marie hit, “Donny is the country. I’m going to be the rock ‘n’ roll.” TheL.A. Times’ Mike Kupper put it best when he wrote, “It was a good line, but Palmer had it backward. Hehad the country drive, winning easily and bringing his car home without a scratch, while Osmond … rocked,then rolled.” Now that’s some fancy sportswriting, folks, and it encapsulates exactly what happened.
WhilePalmer’s uncanny sense for finding the fastest line had him dissecting the course out in front and unhassled, allhell broke loose in his wake. Osmond over-gassed a tight corner and rolled, and former off-road racingchampion Roger Mears, Baywatch’s Jose Solano, drag-racer Gary Scelzi, and last year’s champion AndyLauer were all involved in some sort of scrape. Luckily there were no serious injuries. Palmer described it asa “war zone” as he lapped slower traffic on his way to the checkered flag. The event raised more than100,000 dollars for Southern California Children’s Hospitals, and Palmer raised the bar even farther foranyone challenging his untouchable status.-Ewan Morrison