The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
DAN SULLIVAN RETURNS TO TV
by Tony Sakkis
Danny Sullivan is on TV again.
Once nicknamed "Hollywood", the ex-race car driver is back on the
other side of a camera lens, and seems to be liking it. The former Indy
Car champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, occasional model, oft-actor,
and spokesperson for the sport of racing, now seems to be hell-bent on
becoming championship racing's spokesperson. Recently retired as a
driver, he is now working with Paul Page and company doing color for the
Indy Car and Indy Racing League televised races.
You may remember what they said about Sullivan in his heyday: he
was, the publicists said, the prototype race car driver. He had the
classic good looks of a Cary Grant, the schoolboy image of a Robert
Redford, the oratory skills of David Frost and the nerve of Chuck
Yeager. He just looked like he belonged in his role as a superstar race
car driver and playboy. And now he's on television again, which can't
hurt his image any.
But then again ...
You may remember his past television performances. In 1986 Sullivan
began his career in acting when he appeared in the then hot Miami Vice
series as, surprise, a race car driver. He also appeared on "All My
Children". Anybody who saw the shows -- including Sullivan -- realized
that as good looking as the man was, there was no way he was going to
make it as an actor, and he gave it up.
Over the winter, I spoke to him regarding that brief flirt with
stardom of a different type, and he commented on the brief encounter out
of the cockpit: "I lived in Long Beach, an area where it's more common
to see a famous person than if you live in Indianapolis. The reason I
lived there because the guy I originally drove for out in California was
a guy named Garvin Brown -- the heir to Brown-Forman distilleries, Jack
Daniel, Early Times and so forth. Garvin had an apartment out here and
he said, 'Just stay with me.'"
"Well, he knew a lot of people there because he'd been there for ten
years. Garvin got around and knew a lot of people. Consequently when I
started doing well and had some success I invited people to Long Beach,
whether it was Kurt Russell or Don Johnson or people like that. Then I
met Michael Mann who produced Miami Vice and he invited me to be on the
show, and who's going to turn down being on a hit show."
And so he did it. Maybe you remember it.
He sounded like a tone deaf moose.
But, as Sullivan is wont to do, he made light of the acting
experience and went on with his career ... until this season, when he
became an announcer.
In his time, Danny Sullivan has worked a number of jobs, including
cab driver and a waiter at Maxwell Plum's, a lumberjack in the
Adirondacks, and a chicken ranch hand. So we know he has, well, let's
say "range." He still sounds a bit like a computer voice with a
Louisville accent, but he usually has something intelligent to say.
Jimmy Cagney once explained that acting is a simple thing: once
you've got your cue, he said, you stand your ground and you tell the