Jay Leno knows firsthand the danger -- and the thrill -- of driving a Porsche Carrera GT -- similar to the one that Paul Walker died in -- because he lost control of one while driving at 182 MPH!!
Leno climbed behind the wheel of a 605 horsepower, V-10 GT back in 2005 ... trying to set a speed record at Talladega Motor Speedway. Cost of the car at that time -- $448K.
MotorTrend reported that Leno was gunning it -- going faster than 180 MPH -- when he lost control of the Porsche and spun out ... spinning across the track five times before hitting the infield grass.
Amazingly ... Leno managed to avoid hitting any walls .... and there was hardly a scratch on the car.
Pro driver David Donohue -- who was present that day -- told MotorTrend Leno took his foot off the accelerator because he got too close to a wall, which caused the car to spin. He says it shows just how sensitive the Carrera GT is at high speeds.
Afterward, Leno described it as "kinda like driving on ice. It was alright. It looked exciting!"