William Shatner popped out of the white Toyota Camry with an ear-to-ear grin, pointing over his shoulder as he chuckled.
“That poor guy,” Shatner said, gesturing toward Richard Petty Driving Experience instructor, Mark Melvin.
Melvin had wheeled Shatner around the Kansas Speedway tri-oval for several laps Thursday morning before the actor made a request.
Shatner, 84, wanted to drive a few laps himself — and how does one say no to Captain Kirk?
He did shepherd the Starship Enterprise around the galaxy, boldly going where no man had gone before, for three seasons in the 1960s and reprised the role in a series of movies.
Of course, the pace car wasn’t supposed to be the belle of Thursday’s ball. That honor was supposed to Shatner’s specially designed three-wheeled motorcycle called “The Rivet,” which was custom built by American Wrench.
“It’s somewhere between a touring car and a motorcycle, two wheels behind and one in front, steady,” Shatner said. “It’s a prototype. … There’s engineering in there that’s never been done before.”
The Rivet also broke down at its unveiling in Chicago, so Shatner hasn’t been able to drive it on the cross-country trip. He’s riding a more contemporary three-wheel motorcycle instead with his wife, Elizabeth.
Shatner’s support team hauls The Rivet from town and unloads it for news briefings or, as was the case Wednesday, to get pictures of it next to the B-2 bombers stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
“We parked The Rivet side-by-side with a B-2,” Shatner said. “It was incredible.”
While the trip hasn’t gone according to script, nobody knows better than Shatner that the show must go on.
The journey, which has been dubbed “The Ride” and is being filmed for a documentary, also serves as a fundraiser for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship.
“They’re not thanking me,” said Shatner, who made an appearance Wednesday night at American Legion Post 21 in Independence. “I’m thanking them for the honor to attempt to help them.”
Shatner’s 2,400-mile ride, which also previously stopped in St. Louis, continues with stops during the next five days before concluding in Los Angeles.