Bruce Jenner has come out of retirement, but the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist isn’t thinking about challenging Ashton Eaton to reclaim the title of World’s Greatest Athlete.
Instead, Jenner and his son Burt will drive in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Races on Friday and Saturday at Kansas Speedway, which is hosting the Grand-Am Road Racing series for the inaugural running on its new infield road course.
“My last race was in 1991, but the reason I’m back (is Burt),” said Bruce, who is probably best known these days as the father from “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Bruce has some bona fide racing credentials, even though he didn’t grow up a gearhead.
In fact, Bruce’s first car was a 1954 Cadillac hearse he bought as a sophomore at Newtown (Conn.) High School.
“A guy had it in the backyard,” Bruce explained. “I’m 16 years old and he said, ‘You give me $150 and get it out of here, it’s yours.’ Well, I didn’t have a car, so I said fine, asked the old man for $150 and took the car. It ran. My world record in high school was 27 people in the back — all alive.”
Later, Bruce caught the speed bug while training in San Jose, Calif., for the Montreal Olympics when he was invited by a friend to races at Laguna Seca Raceway.
After rocketing to international stardom by shattering the decathlon world record en route to Olympic gold, Bruce got into go-kart racing and ran the 24 Hours at Daytona for the first time in 1980.
Eventually, he joined the International Motor Sports Association circuit, racing professionally from 1983-88. That included a two-year stint when he teamed up with Scott Pruett, an 11-time champion on various sports car circuits, and helped win the 1986 IMSA GTO championship.
Now, Bruce, who transitioned from football to the decathlon while he was a student at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, is back — at least for one week as he tries to help Burt launch a professional racing career of his own.
“It’s great for the sport, but more importantly for them,” said Pruett, who will race a Daytona Prototype on Saturday night in the Rolex Series Race. “It’s something Bruce had so much inspiration for and ability at when he got involved. I can’t imagine how proud he is seeing his boy now do that at the level he’s doing it.”
Burt jump-started his racing career by winning the second season of Ford’s Octane Academy (and a $100,000 prize).
Unlike his dad, Burt grew up around the garages and had a love for racing from a very early age, but he didn’t idolize his dad — at least not on the track.
“As a kid, I cheered my dad on in life, but Scott would kick my dad’s (butt) every weekend in the car,” Burt said. “Scott, to me, was a god.”
That said, there’s no bigger thrill for Burt, 34, who is the oldest of Bruce’s 10 children, than racing with his dad for the first time.
“It means more to me than anything in life,” said Burt, who will run next week’s Lamborghini series race with his stepbrother, Brandon Thompson-Jenner.
Right now, though, it’s some rare father-son bonding time.
“We’ve raced against each other in a lot of karts and stuff,” Bruce said. “There’s been a lot of fender-banging, but we’ve never actually raced together.”
Then again, it’s not as if he isn’t used to driving with his kids. Bruce’s youngest child, daughter Kylie, turned 16 on Aug. 10.
“That officially ended 34 years of carpool,” Bruce joked. “It started with Burt, but 34 years of carpool officially ended last week.”
Well, kind of.