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Quick¿name the world’s five most versatile athletes. Deion Sanders? Bo Jackson? Michael Jordan? A good start, but consider this: Skiers are proving their mettle in so many warm-weather sports, the time may soon come when you’ll toss an Olympic downhiller’s name on the list.
Tommy Moe and Dean Cummings are whitewater kayaking fiends; Kristina Koznick is an accomplished wakeboarder; and Daron Rahlves is a former jet-ski world champion (expert class, that is, not quite pro). Meanwhile, last spring Jonny Moseley was a runner-up for the second straight year in the Snapple Superstars competition, besting most of a field that included eight NFL stars and Olympic decathlon champ Dan O’Brien.
And then there’s Glen Plake. The maverick, mohawked ski-film star spends most of his summers racing vehicles with internal combustion engines: motorcycles, dragsters, jalopies¿you name it. “Gasoline and gravity. Those are the only two things that matter to me,” Plake chuckles. “What else is there?” Lately he’s been on the dirt track, hammering 400- and 600-horsepower, alcohol-fueled, modified Chevy stock cars at speeds upwards of 100 miles per hour.
In April, he finished third in the 23rd annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, a bumper-to-bumper battle through the streets of Long Beach, California. Slotted into the pro division because of his experience behind the wheel, Plake went tire- to-tire with the likes of Indy-car legend Roger Mears to chase a handicapped amateur field of celebs, including pro snowboarder (and incorrigible multi-tasker) Shaun Palmer, rapper Coolio, and Baywatch star Jose Solano. In November, Plake will head south of the border to enter the grueling Baja 1000.
While a lot of celebrity drivers race with technical support from their credit cards, Plake is a hands-on Mr. Goodwrench. He builds his own engines, beats out his own dents, and packs his own cooler full of post-race beverages. If nothing else, you can bet he’s the only one signing ski posters in the winner’s circle.