Jay Leno’s Vintage Motorcycle Crash Broke Multiple Bones, Not Funny Bone
Comedian and patron celebrity of classic vehicles, Jay Leno, is having a tough run of it. Last November, he was working on a gas line on an antique car when the fuel caught fire and burned one side of his face and his ear. We were thankful to hear he made a full recovery. But then, on January 17th, he was riding a 1940 Indian Motorcycle and ran headlong into an unmarked cable blocking a parking lot and broke multiple bones.
How did Jay Leno get burned?
In November of 2022, Jay Leno was working on his 1907 White steam car. The White’s engine can run at 700 degrees. And when Leno was working on the car’s fuel lines, the hot engine lit the gasoline on fire.
The White Motor Company built steam-powered cars until 1911, including one for president William Howard Taft. It produced 13,000 steam-powered cars in total. Unlike a locomotive, which uses coal to heat a large boiler and drive a piston, White steam cars burn gasoline. The gasoline then rapidly heats steam, on demand, as it runs through a coil.
Because of the severity of Leno’s burns, we were thrilled to see him make a full recovery. He even scheduled a March standup comedy headline at the Wynn in Vegas. But before the show, he had another mishap.
Did Jay Leno have an accident?
On January 17th, 2023, Jay Leno was knocked off his 1940 Indian Motorcycle by a cable strung across the entrance to a parking lot. He reports that the cable stopped him short while the bike kept going, knocking him to the ground and breaking several bones.
Jay Leno told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he had been working on the 1940 Indian Motorcycle and decided to take it out for a test drive. During the ride, he thought he smelled gas. Leno is understandably cautious of fuel leaks today, so he immediately pulled over to check it out.
“So I turned down a side street and cut through a parking lot, and unbeknownst to me, some guy had a wire strung across the parking lot but with no flag hanging from it…So, you know, I didn’t see it until it was too late. It just clothesline me and, boom, knocked me off the bike…The bike kept going, and you know how that works out.”Jay Leno
In this case, certainly, it didn’t work out well. Leno reported, “So I’ve got a broken collarbone. I’ve got two broken ribs. I’ve got two cracked kneecaps.”
But things could have been much worse. After his steam car accident, Leno considered the motorcycle crash small potatoes: “You know, after getting burned up, you get that one for free,” Leno said. “After that, you’re Harrison Ford, crashing airplanes. You just want to keep your head down (laughs).”
And Leno did keep his head down. He actually didn’t say anything about his second accident to the media for over a week.
Is Jay Leno OK?
Jay Leno did crash his motorcycle and break his collarbone and ribs. But within ten days, he was photographed driving his beloved Tesla Model S around LA. He even told reports, “I’m OK…I’m working this weekend.”
Considering Jay Leno’s run of bad luck, we’re thrilled to hear he’s at least driving around. Hopefully his collarbone set easily, and his ribs and kneecaps heal quickly.
One thing the crash didn’t manage to break was Jay’s funny bone. When reporters asked for details about the crash he joked: “I was riding my motorcycle up in Lake Tahoe. I came around the corner and crashed into Jeremy Renner‘s snow plow.”
Leno was of course referring to the horrific PistenBully snow cat crash that actor Jeremy Renner survived on New Years’ Day. Here’s to hoping Renner gets some of Jay’s luck and is out of the hospital soon.
If we may get serious for a minute, Jay Leno is far from the first motorcycle rider to strike an unmarked cable. Obviously, land owners are well within their rights to gate their property, but some high-visibility flags can save a life.
You can see Jay Leno’s 1940 Indian Motorcycle for yourself in the video below: