Flag Waving

Beverly Hills' Brandon becomes Denver's grand marshal.

In celebrity-starved Denver, even Jason Priestley is enough to get our engines running. (Then again, he was Brandon in 90210.) Since he'll be in town this week to serve as the grand marshal of the Grand Prix, I took a few conversational spins around the track with Priestley, who at one point noted that "Denver's becoming like Amsterdam" when it comes to dope smoking. Steer clear!

Q: What exactly does the grand marshal do?

A: Well, it means that I wave the green flag at the start of the race and, well, it means…I'm just the grand marshal. I'm just around, greeting people. It's going to be waving the green flag, gentlemen start your engines, and by the way, I'm running for mayor, can I expect your vote on Saturday? It's gonna be fun. I had a very long racing career, and I'm still a huge fan of racing, and I love Champ Car. I love temporary street circuits, and a temporary street circuit in the middle of downtown Denver is really cool. It's getting to be such a hip area now, and it's cool to have a race in the middle of that.

Q: How long have you been racing?

A: I retired about two years ago, but I raced professionally for eleven years all over the world. It's a young man's game; I'm just not so young anymore.

Q: Did your accident two years ago affect your views of racing?

A: The only way that it really affected my life was that it forced me to retire from racing, but I still love it. I'd be back in a race car tomorrow if I could, but in the meantime, I just have to be grand marshal. It's a pretty highfalutin' title, grand marshal.

Q: What about the Grand Prix excites you most?

A: I'm excited about all of it, but there are two things. The poker night is going to be fun; there are going be lots of celebrities there. Anthony Edwards is going to be there. Paul Newman will be there. Tiffani Thiessen will be there. And on Saturday, my friend Steven Page, the lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, is going to play at the Universal Lending Pavilion, and all the money we raise is going to go to cystic fibrosis. That's going to be cool, because he's one of my really old friends. And the auto show with all the old cars, that will be fun. And I'll be judging.

Q: What does that entail?

A: It entails me walking around with a clipboard: 92 points…91 points… They're all old, restored cars, and I have to go around and check the restoration, kick the tires and pick my favorite. Basically I just pick my favorite.

Q: You played the ultimate teen heartthrob. Did you enjoy the fact that Brandon always made the right decisions?

A: No. I always felt that Brandon should be more of a fallible character, and I fought with the producers a lot. He was so good, and he always made the right decisions, and he never really was challenged by the decisions; it was too easy for him to make the right decisions. After doing that for a number of years on the show, I started to get frustrated as an actor, because I found that portrayal of the character had gotten to a point where it was just unbelievable.

 
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