There's a very select fraternity of actors who have climbed behind the wheel of a race car and been successful. Paul Newman was as accomplished a racer as he was an actor, winning four championships in sports cars as well as his class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. Tom Cruise once tested a NASCAR Cup Series car, and came very close to racing in the Cup Series at the height of his fame during the making of Days of Thunder. And now, Frankie Muniz is looking to accelerate his transition from full-time actor to full-time racer.
A former child star most famous for his role in Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz has dabbled in racing over the past 15 years, and recently has begun to race stock cars out on the West Coast at tracks like Kern County. Now, Muniz is looking to jump up to NASCAR's national touring series in 2023, sharing in an interview with Dave Moody of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he is in discussions to race in either ARCA, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, or the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season.
"I want to be realistic ... Obviously I haven't done a ton of oval racing, so everywhere I'm gonna go next year is gonna be new. In that same sense, I want to move up quickly," Muniz said. "I don't want to throw myself completely off the deep end. I know in ARCA National, the Trucks Series -- It's ultra-competitive. It's not little, local racing, it's the top level of motorsports.
"I want to make sure that I'm ready. I believe that I am. But it's all about kind of putting the best deal together with a Truck ride or ARCA ride. I just want to be in a race car, so as much seat time as possible is gonna be key for me the rest of this year and next year just to keep learning and progressing. That is the goal is to be in a Truck or doing ARCA National or both."
Muniz's first experience on a major speedway came earlier this year when he drove an ARCA car for Fast Track Racing during preseason testing at Daytona with a fastest lap of 51.796 seconds (173.759 MPH). Muniz also served as a guest analyst for Fox Sports' broadcast of the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Open at Texas Motor Speedway in May.
The bulk of Muniz's racing experience came in the late 2000s, when he competed in the Atlantic Championship for three seasons with a best finish of fourth. Muniz has also raced five times in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach with a best finish of third in 2005.
Should Muniz successfully put together a program to go racing in 2023, he would become the latest in a select group of Hollywood figures to make the jump to stock cars. One of the most notable names in that category is Hollywood stuntman Stanton Barrett, who has raced many times across NASCAR's national touring series over the last three decades.