Jay Leno’s passion for roaring engines and peeling rubber brought him to Portland on the Fourth of July.

The longtime host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” and perhaps America’s best-known car buff, was in Portland to film an episode of his current TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

Leno, 67, said he was in Maine on Tuesday and part of Wednesday filming segments for his CNBC car show. Leno left the Portland Jetport Wednesday morning, got a message in flight that a reporter wanted to talk to him, and called to answer questions from Kansas while his plane was being refueled.

“Must be a slow news day in Portland,” said Leno, when told people saw him in town and were interested in what he was doing.

Leno said he came to New England on Monday to film segments at Mount Washington in New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday. One of his Stanley steam-powered cars was filmed driving the auto road to the summit. He said he wanted to re-create the first time a Stanley drove up the mountain, in 1899.

Then on Tuesday Leno drove to Portland, where he was staying at a hotel near the airport. He laughed when asked which one, and laughed again when asked where he ate in Portland.


“We ate food in the city, we stayed in a hotel, I don’t know,” Leno said. But he did know he drove around town in a Nissan Titan truck. He was spotted getting out of that truck around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on Commercial Street in Portland.

“It was a rental,” he said.

On Wednesday morning he filmed another segment at Howe and Howe Technologies in Waterboro, a company that has garnered national attention and has made vehicles for movies, including “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The company makes outsized and powerful high-tech contraptions, including walk-behind robots used by soldiers and firetrucks that can reach remote wildfires.

Leno’s personal collection includes more than 150 vehicles. Some of his best-known cars have included a 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, a McLaren F1 that can go 240 miles per hour and a Doble steam car once owned by reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes.

“Jay Leno’s Garage” follows the comedian as he travels around the country to find vintage, experimental, weird and fascinating cars and talks to the people who own them and work on them. He also has celebrities on often to talk cars. Past guests have included Jerry Seinfeld, Maine-born actor and race car driver Patrick Dempsey, Caitlyn and Kendall Jenner and Dan Aykroyd. The show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on the CNBC cable channel. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, and had relatives in Maine. He said an uncle was a newspaper editor in the Bangor area.

He got his start in comedy performing around Boston. In 1992, he became host of the “The Tonight Show,” replacing Johnny Carson. He retired from that show in 2014. In 2015, he began hosting the series “Jay Leno’s Garage.”


Besides traveling the country to film and talk about cars, he continues to do live comedy shows. He’s scheduled to do one Friday in Las Vegas.

And he’s taken an interest in promoting “Jay Leno’s Garage” himself. Though anything with Leno’s name attached to it needs little publicity, he was clearly grateful Wednesday that he was being asked to talk about cars and his car show.

“Thanks very much for showing interest in this,” Leno said. “Tell people it will probably air in the fall.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:


Twitter: @RayRouthier

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