Jay Leno made a play for famous Utah car

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BURBANK, Calif. -- Beginning Monday night, Utahns can get their daily comedy fix on KSL 5 earlier in the evening. That's when Jay Leno makes his prime time debut. Nadine Wimmer traveled to NBC studios to interview him, and learned about his new show and a Utah connection -- almost.

Most people know Leno loves cars. What many Utahns may not know is that love extends to our state's most famous race car--the one that got away.

Leno has a 17,000 square foot garage and one of the world's great car collections. On the day of our interview, parked in his stall--we think--was his Jag XKE. But the car that came up during our time on the set was Utah's Mormon Meteor and the rare chance he had to sit in the driver's seat and rev the engine.

"I don't know what the equivalent would be. Maybe hitting a home run at Yankee stadium or something like that. I'm a motor sports guy, so in the annuls of motor sports history, that's one of the most legendary vehicles there is. So it was a thrill," he said.

In fact, a man who's a friend to Leno and to the car's owner told me, Leno liked the Mormon Meteor so much, he made an offer to buy it. The owner wanted to keep it in Utah.

Cars will also play a prominent role in the new show, with a competitive driving feature.

"We put a race track behind the studio and we're going to do a green car challenge where we have celebrities in green cars race and see who's the fastest, and if some of them crash and burn," he told us.

Along with new segments and a new set, he'll bring back familiar favorites, like Jaywalking, and he'll continue with his legendary work ethic. In 17 years of nightly comedy, he missed only two shows, both in his last month on the air.

"If you like your job and it's fun, then that's really it. And I'm anxious to get back and give it a try," he said.

"The Jay Leno Show" debuts Monday at 9 p.m. on KSL TV.

E-mail: dwimmer@ksl.com

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