Tanner Foust says the reason he majored in molecular biology at the University of Colorado is there's nothing chicks dig more "than the heartbeat of a house fly." They also dig his X Games gold medals, his Formula Drift titles, his stunt driving in "Iron Man II" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" and the movie version of "The Dukes of Hazzard," his role as co-host of "Top Gear" on the History Channel and that he'll be racing souped-up compact cars over jumps and through water holes in Saturday night's inaugural Global RallyCross at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But I think he was mostly joking about chicks digging molecular biologists.
Last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a couple of hours before the start of the Indianapolis 500, Foust soared 332 feet above the fourth turn in a bright yellow Hot Wheels truck on a bright orange Hot Wheels track to set a world record for a four-wheeled vehicle soaring through the air. Most of the Indy 500 drivers gathered to watch.
I'm unaware if Mary Jane, who grew up tall and grew up right, with those Indiana boys on those Indiana nights, dug it. (Thanks, Mr. Petty). But Mario Andretti sure did. Foust said after he landed right side up, Mario wanted to try it.
Tanner Foust is 39 years old, but doesn't look it. He still wears his ball cap backwards, like Buster Posey, when he signs autographs and poses for photos at sporting events sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink. Chicks dig that, too.
This is a guy whose career has gone slip, sliding away - for the better. He has spent more time moving sideways than a crab. If they ever make "Sideways II," he should take Paul Giamatti's place alongside Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh, the woman from "Grey's Anatomy."
This is what happens when you grow up in Colorado, and you're running late for molecular biology class, and it's snowing outside and the roads are icy.
You learn car control.
You learn to move sideways and forward at the same time.
And the next thing you know, you are teaching others how to do it. And then you are driving at Pikes Peak and winning drift championships and X Games gold medals and soaring through the air at Indy and driving the General Lee and hanging out with Robert Downey Jr. on the set and showing Matt Damon how to crash his car into yours, and make it look real.
And Damon's having such a good time making it look real that he insists on doing it like 14 times. And then the next day your neck is sore.
But chicks still dig it, provided you take off the neck brace before entering the club.
This is the life of Tanner Foust.
You get invited to drive sideways against Formula 1 champions such as Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel and the great Michael Schumacher. And you beat them, because you have experience driving sideways on ice to molecular biology class, and they've never been to Colorado, unless maybe it's to ski at Vail or Steamboat Springs.
And then people in the fast-car business are constantly tossing keys to you, because you are a master of car control, like Juan Pablo Montoya or Kyle Busch, with the exception being you generally bring them back in one piece with all the fenders still attached.
So when I ask Foust over lunch about the coolest car he has ever driven, he has to think about it. I am looking for Corvette, or perhaps the yellow '32 Ford Coupe with the 327 cubic-inch Chevy that John Milner drove in "American Graffiti." Instead, when he's through pushing leafy greens around his plate, Foust comes up with Pagani Zonda, who I mistakenly identify as an attacking midfielder for the Italian national soccer team.
A Pagani Zonda is an Italian sports car that looks like the Batmobile. Only 207 since 1999 have been produced. Some of the engineering was done by Juan Manuel Fangio, the first great champion of Formula 1. According to Road & Track, a Zonda goes from zero to a gazillion mph in a nanosecond.
Tanner Foust has driven this car. And yet, he says, nothing fulfills his need for speed like a few laps around the Global RallyCross track in a tricked-out Ford Fiesta. Foust calls it "racing for people with attention deficit disorder."
"It's the most chaotic, the most vicious" form of racing, he says. "Zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds, almost 600 horsepower. It's an eyes-wide-open experience. You keep hitting those jumps, sliding all over the place, and there are six other angry guys with helmets on doing the same thing."
If you've never seen it, I'm told it's quite a rush, and that some chicks even dig it more than they dig guys who major in molecular biology and dissect house flies.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.