Some of these play drivers in movies, some don’t play roles anywhere close to a car-lover; but all of the following celebrities have one thing in common: they all race cars in their real lives. Some may surprise you, some are right on par, and most are generally going to be news to you. Find out which mega-star drives cars at No. 4. Enjoy them all!
30. Michelle Rodriguez
29. Jodie Kidd
28. Adam Carolla
Adam Corolla sure has come along way since his days as a shock jock riding shotgun with Dr. Drew. He went on to make a name for himself independent of his colleague because he happens to be one heck of a racecar driver. You can find him competing regularly in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. In fact, He has won both category names. He competes in other events to like the Good Wood Festival of Speed Hill Climb where he drives a Nissan 300ZX, and even debuted as a professional Corvette race car driver during a Trans Am event.
27. Paul Walker
Before his on screen breakout performance in The Fast and Furious, Paul Walker was a racing addict. In fact, he owned more than 30 cars in real life and loved to stretch them out on the track from time to time. He was an avid competitor in the Redline Time Attack Racing Series. In that particular event his car of choice was a Street Tire Class BMW E 92 and 3 which he drove for AEE performance. He was also seen racing the Ford Boss Mustang during the Perelli World Challenge Series with his friend and partner, Roger Rodas. Incidentally, Roger was driving the Porsche Carrera GT on that fateful day their lives ended abruptly.
26. Jason Priestly
Multimatic Motor Sports
Jason Priestley has been racing long before his rise to fame during the wildly successful 1990s drama Beverly Hills 90210. His accolades include racing a Toyota Celica ST 185 during the SCCA Pro Rally Series, circuit racing Ford Mustangs and events like the IMSE GTS and US RRCGT1, The Motorola Cup, and Firestone Indy Nights. He had a scare in August 2002 when he crashed into a wall at the Kentucky Speedway doing 180 mph. He was legally dead for a full 45 seconds before being resuscitated. So ask Priestly. He can tell you how to talk to an angel (that’s bad).
25. Phoemela Baranda
Aside from being voted Best Looking Woman in the World many times over and scoring a gig as entertainment anchor for ABS CBN, Phoemala Baranda loves to race. She’s been in love with the sport since she was a child. During her teenage years you could find her behind the wheel of a Toyota Corolla TRD that she carted around to local drag races. In time, she took racing lessons and started making her way around the professional go karting circuit. Her first big celebrity race came in the early 2000’s. Today, she still races the Toyota Vios Cup and says she would pursue it full time if she had a chance to make a career of it.
24. Tom Cruise
CHRIS TEDESCO-RED BULL CONTENT POOL
Seems like Tom Cruise didn’t need much training when he played Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder because he spent time in SCCA races before that. In fact, he set a new lap record on the Top Gear test track in England during their “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment of the show. Of course, he showed no thoughts toward self preservation when he crossed the finish line on two wheels. That only served to help him win a dream driver spot post production of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The red ball team took him for a spin in their championship winning car using 13 time GP winner David Coulthard as a personal instructor and a 12 member race team for support.
23. Emily Ratajkowski
We are used to seeing Emily in lists like “Best Looking Women on the Planet.” She’s also very engaged with politics and supports feminist causes. However, the 27-year-old actress/model is an avid racer too. In fact, she was chosen to be the first female celebrity driver of a Formula E car during the Berlin E-PRIX. Of course, the picture of her wearing a race suit garnered almost 1,000,000 likes on her social media platforms (calm down people). So while she’s not technically a career racer, maybe this experience will push her over the edge.
22. Rowan Atkinson
Behind the laughs, smiles and slapstick antics lie a serious racer. Yep, it’s not a role we are accustomed to seeing Mr. Bean play, but he does and he loves to do so accurately. For instance, sometimes he drives fast and has a mishap, like the time he totaled his McLaren F1. And if that weren’t enough, he did it again just to prove he knows how to wreck supercars. He’s a regular at Good Wood Historic races and other UK events. You can see him behind the wheel of everything from vintage cars to modern wonders like an Aston Martin. In addition, he loves to write for car magazines as well.
21. Steve McQueen
Of course, Steve McQueen was more than just an Academy Award nominee. An A-list actor in his own right, he also happens to be a successful racecar driver (and not just because of that famous Bullitt chase scene). For instance, he snagged second place during the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring. Later that year, he took third in the British Touring Car Championship. However, he had an equal passion for racing motorcycles. He competed in the Baja 1000 and ran the International Enduro aboard a Triumph motorcycle. In 1978 he was inducted into the Off-Road Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
20. Matt Leblanc
So pretty much the only thing we knew about Matt LeBlanc was his character Joey Tribiani from the mega popular Friends television series. Also, we remember him in the less successful spinoff series Joey. Yet, we had no clue he was such a gearhead until he showed up one day as a host on the BBC‘s hit auto show Top Gear. And while this doesn’t solidify his spot as a racecar driver, he does get to drive incredibly cool, fast cars on some of the best and most challenging tracks across the globe: and to be honest, he does have one claim to fame. Matt holds the fastest lap time for the Top Gear track. Of course, his trainers were Skip Barber and Fast Lane.
19. Megyn Price
Frederick M. Brown-Getty Images North America
Remember Megyn Price from Grounded for Life and Rules of Engagement? Well, the actress also likes to race in events like the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. She’s actually done that a couple of times much to her daughter’s chagrin. She drove a modified Scion TC and scored 11th place. Not bad for a strawberry blonde from Oklahoma. Wait, that’s where the guys from Street Outlaws are from. Maybe her love for racing wasn’t accidental after all.
18. Walter Cronkite
Most of us know Walter Cronkite as a CBS evening news anchorman in the late 70s and early 80s. However, his journalism career actually began in the 30s, but it was the 1950s that gets our attention. This was the decade he spent racing his Volvo on various race tracks scattered throughout the Northeast. In 1959, he served a dual role, reporting and racing during the Sebring 12 Hours race event. What’s most impressive about this is while Cronkite was reporting between track sessions, his team took up the slack scoring fifth place in their class behind the wheel of their Zagato-bodied Lancia Appia. Who knew water Cronkite was such a motorsport legend!
17. Craig Nelson
Do you remember the show ‘Coach’? Well, back when actor Craig Nelson was filming that show is when he discovered an attraction to the sport of racing; at the 1991 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach. A ninth place finish – not too bad for a true amateur! However, he was hooked. The very next year, he founded Screaming Eagles Racing. Nelson was voted IMSA’s Most Improved Driver, which he said felt better than winning an Emmy. If you’re familiar with the marathon event of ’24 Hours Of Daytona’, his racing team entered it three times but never made it across the finish line. In its history, the best result for the Screaming Eagles was fifth place in the 1996 Grand Prix of Atlanta.
16. Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson Racing
Seems like rock guards and gearheads go hand-in-hand. Just ask AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson. He’s been featured on the popular British car show Top Gear a few times and got his own hosting gig, Cars That rock with Brian Johnson. Turns out he’s driven in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, raced vintage cars and admitted to Howard Stern much of his hearing loss stems from sitting in racecars with no earplugs rather than performing on stage. In fact, he once burst his ear drum because he forgot his ear plugs before taking off from the starting line.
15. Gene Hackman
Who can forget Gene Hackman’s performance in the 1971 classic, The French Connection? In that movie, he performed more than half the stunts (yet not the infamous chase scene). Yeah, he has a few bragging rights of his own when it comes to racing. For instance, he drove a Formula 4 during the SCCA Race in events in the 70s. Later on he would drive a Toyota Celica for the same circuit under Dan Gurney before peaking in 1983 during the 24 Hours of Daytona. To his credit, race instructor Bob Bondurant had said in the past Gene Hackman may be one of the most talented celebrities he’s ever taught.
14. Patrick Dempsey
13. James Dean
Ironically enough, James Dean is known just as much for being a racecar driver as he is for his acting because his life was ended by a tragic accident. Of course, most of us know him from his 1955 classic, Rebel Without a Cause. It was that same year James purchased a Porsche Speedster and began racing. He held a lot of promise too, snagging first in class during his first race. He wanted to go further, yet realized rather quickly that would be a no go since Warner Film Studios prevented him from racing while filming.
12. Shane Lynch
So if you’re from the states you probably know Shane Lynch as a professional drift car racer. However, if you grew up in Ireland you might remember him as part of the popular Irish boy band called Boyzone. Yeah, we think the racing thing is better too. As part of the Eclipse Motorsport Team Lynch races in the British GT Championship between 2002 to 2006. He almost won 2003 until he crashed into a spinning car he had previously left. Ouch. Anyway, now he’s a drifter and competes in the British Drift Championship. And while he and his teammate were both involved in a pretty spectacular accident in 2008, they walked away fine. We can’t say the same for their Nissan Skylines however. Both of them were completely totaled!
11. Wallace Reid
Aside from being voted Best Looking Woman in the World many times over and scoring a gig as entertainment anchor for a CBS – CBN,Phoemala Baranda loves to race. She’s been in love with the sport since she was a child. During her teenage years you could find her behind the wheel of a Toyota corolla TRD that she carted around to local drag races. In time, she took racing lessons and started making her way around the karting track. Her first big celebrity race came in the early 2000‘s. Today, she still racist the Toyota VOS cup and says she would pursue it for time if she had a chance to make a career of it.
10. Paul Newman
It’s a little known fact that you can’t have a celebrity racecar list and leave Paul Newman off of it. He is perhaps the most well-known celebrity racer. He discovered his love for racing after his starring role in Winning. You may remember that as the movie about a guy obsessed with winning the Indy 500. Afterward, Newman formed a race team called Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Ironically, they would become the most successful Indy Car racing team of all time. In addition, Newman won several SCCA National Championships, competed in a plethora of endurance races, and had a strong second finish at the 24 Hours of Lemans. And at age 70 he was still going strong, known as the oldest driver on a winning team that competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Paul Newman’s trademark was using a race number that always matched his age. What an icon.
9. Tim Allen
Seems like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor from Home Improvement knows a lot about cars. He has an incredibly cool car collection and has been featured on Jay Leno‘s Garage with a few of his own vehicles. He’s a self described gearhead. Yet, you may not know Tim actually took some time off from the cameras to pursue racing. He teamed up with Saleen in the 1990s to race a Mustang. He made an appearance at The 24 Hours of Daytona in 1997 where he placed 58th out of 80. Not bad!
8. Jackie Cooper
Jackie Cooper earned an Oscar nomination when he was just nine years old. Ultimately, he went on to have a stellar television career. Even more impressive, he’s in a very small pool of actors who successfully transitioned from TV series to silver screen movie stars. He’s also a huge racing enthusiast participating in events like the SCCA Road Racing Competition and breaking records for classic cars on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He always had a fondness for Healeys and even raced a limited production Austin Healey 100 as soon as the vehicle rolled off the line. Ultimately, he owned the car which brought over $1 million at auction in 2015.
7. Christine Kuo
It’s not every day you see a beautiful Taiwanese born Canadian actor who also happens to be former Miss Chinese Toronto get hitched to a professional racecar driver like William Lock. However, it was a beautiful marriage on all fronts because Christine is quite an avid racer herself. She often takes part in celebrity races and even had a brush with death during a life-threatening crash in 2015. However, she did not give up but instead decided to face her fears and joined her husband‘s endurance race team as both driver and ambassador. She’s gone for the Asian Lemans Sprint Cup as well as series championship titles. Currently, they are looking to compete in the 24 Hours of Lemans.
6. Caitlyn Jenner
After a stunning win in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, then Bruce Jenner instantly became a household name. He was rich and famous so that offered him the chance to do whatever he wanted to. And what he wanted to do was race. After scoring his first celebrity race title which was actually a prelude to the Formula One Long Beach Grand Prix, Bruce was hooked on the sport of racing. In time, he would try out with a pro team and ultimately make a professional debut in a BMW and won during the 24 Hours of Daytona. That was only 10 months after winning his first celebrity race. In the 80s he even swept his class at Sebring. Now that we know him as Caitlyn, it’s interesting to see what she will endeavor to do.
5. Eric Bana
Love the Beast
It’s a little known fact that Australians are stamped at birth when it comes to car choices. You are either a Ford or Holden gearhead. Eric Bana was clearly stamped Ford. His 74 Ford XB Falcon is now almost as legendary as the actor himself. The classic car makes sense too since Bana has long held a love for racing and rally circuits. For a bit, he raced Porsche Cup cars. However, make no mistake, the Falcon is his baby. The documentary Love the Beast chronicles him rebuilding the vintage classic only to wreck it during the Target Tasmania Rally.
4. James Garner
Before he was famous on TV for The Rockford Files, James garner took the role of Graham Hill in the 1966 Classic Silver Screen Flick Grand Prix. It was during this time that he realized he really enjoyed racing. Plus, it helped that Graham told him he was good enough to go pro. So, right afterward James formed the International Racers Team to compete at Daytona, Lemans and Sebring. And while he took part in the Indy 500 3 times, his real passion was off-roading. He competed and completed the Baja 1000 in Mexico and was subsequently inducted into the off-road racing Hall of Fame during its inaugural year.
3. Nick Mason
You are probably familiar with the Pink Floyd drummer’s incredible car collection. Nick Mason loves to stack up the automobiles. However, what makes his collection so unique is they contain all of the vehicles he has either raced or will race in the future. And yes, he is always the man behind the wheel. His list of races include the 24 Hours of Lemans, and Goodwood Festival of Speed. He even crashed his McLaren in 2017 at Good Wood. However, it hasn’t seemed to slow him down.
2. CJ Wilson
1. Frankie Muniz
Frederick M. Brown-Getty Images
Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz has always loved cars. In fact, he drove the Daytona 500 pace car in 2001 which led to a racing career in 2004 with the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach. He managed to snag third spot on the podium in 2005. Ultimately, he would sign on for two years as a driver for Jensen Motorsport even though he failed to score points during the season (2006). However, he more than made up for it with his come back during the Toyota Pro/Liberty Race. He began in 15th place and claw his way to a fourth place finish.