While their schedules are hectic, these Hollywood stars find time for hobbies outside of their acting gigs. For them, it’s all about living life in the fast lane and racing cars either for fun or professionally.
From Fast and the Furious star Michelle Rodriguez showing her racing skills aren’t just onscreen to Rowan Atkinson racing everything from vintage to modern Aston Martins, here are some celebrities who enjoy getting behind the wheel and racing.
Paul Newman Drove Into Old Age
Actor Paul Newman first became interested in motorsports when he was filming the 1969 movie Winning. From there, he became a frequent competitor at Sports Car Club of America events, winning four of the national championships.
He also participated in several endurance races, including the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he finished second, driving a Porsche 935. Newman continued to race and compete into old age. Fun fact: his race number always matched his age.
Tom Cruise Got The Nickname “See Cruise Crash”
Taking up racing as a recommendation from Paul Newman, actor Tom Cruise has taken the hobby and hasn’t only raced but has made passion projects surrounding the sport (Days of Thunder ring a bell?).
Unfortunately, for Cruise, his racing style was so aggressive that he earned the nickname “See Cruise Crash” among other racers and his instructors. Still, it didn’t deter him from participating in various SCCA events throughout the years and even being invited to drive for the Red Bull F1 team.
Michelle Rodriguez Is A Fierce Driver On And Off The Screen
Michelle Rodriguez might be known for her role as Letty Ortiz in the Fast and Furious franchise, but her character isn’t the only one who knows how to handle a fast car. The actress is actually very qualified behind the wheel, even hosting her own show, Riding Shotgun with Michelle Rodriguez.
From driving a Mini Cooper on a skid-pad to racing a Ferrari 488 GTB at top speed, Rodriquez is a force on the track.
Emily Ratajkowski Drove A Formula E Car
While she just recently got into racing cars, model and actress Emily Ratajkowski has proven she is pretty good at the high-speed and adrenaline of the sport! At the Berlin E-Prix in 2018, she was the first female celebrity to drive a Formula E car.
When asked about the experience, Ratajkowski said, “I got really nervous before, but then it was so fun. You’re really low to the ground, so that’s the strangest part.”
For Patrick Dempsey, Racing Is A Part Of Him
Patrick Dempsey may have started racing later in his life, but he went into the hobby full throttle. Since getting into the sport, Dempsey has competed in multiple pro-am races, including the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and even the Ensenada SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race.
Currently, he is the owner of Dempsey Racing, a team that competes with two Porsche 911 GT Americas. According to Dempsey, racing is just as much a part of him as acting.
Megyn Price Came In 11th During The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
Megyn Price might be known for her roles in sitcoms like Grounded for Life and Rules of Engagement, but in 2019 she was known for something else — racing cars! That year, Price was invited to compete in the 34th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.
She drove a modified Scion tC. Holding her own on the track, Price came in 11th place. While she enjoyed the rush and competition, it doesn’t sound like she’s switching careers to become a professional race car driver anytime soon.
Steve McQueen Won A Race With A Cast On His Foot
“The King of Cool,” Steve McQueen was a big car enthusiast. So much so that whenever one of his movies called for car stunts, he was more than eager to hop behind the wheel and perform them himself.
His love for racing even made him consider switching careers! Some of the races he competed in include the 1961 British Touring Car Championship, he drove a BMC Mini, and the 12 Hours of Sebring race where he drove a Porsche 908/02 with a cast on his foot! Somehow, he won the race.
Jason Priestly Has Been Racing Since The 1990s
Beverly Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly has been behind the wheel of race cars since the mid-90s. His first race was the CCA Pro Rally Series; he drove a Toyota Celica All-Trac ST185. It didn’t take long for him to transition to circuit racing, driving Ford Mustangs for the next two seasons.
Now, he’s more on the managerial side of the sport, taking care of the various Indy teams and getting behind the wheel and on the track occasionally.
Paul Walker Had Around 30 Cars In His Private Collection
Best known for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and the Furious franchise, it only makes sense that Paul Walker was a huge car lover. In fact, he was on the AE Performance Team and competed during the Redline Time Attack racing series. He drove a BMW E92 M3.
Walker even had about 30 cars in his personal collection. Twenty-one of his cars were sold for a combined sum of $2.33 million at an auction in 2020.
Eric Bana Bought A 1974 XB Ford Falcon Coupe At 15
When he was growing up, actor Eric Bana wanted nothing more than to be a motor mechanic. Buying a 1974 XB Ford Falcon coupe at the age of 15, Bana went on to race the car during the 1996 Targa Tasmania.
Then, in 2004, he raced a Porsche 944 at Australia’s Porsche Challenge and even finished fourth at the Sandown event. It’s safe to say Bana will always have a place in his heart for racing cars.
Adam Carolla Has Won Professional Races
Podcast host and radio personality Adam Carolla has proven himself to be quite the car expert, having hosted The Car Show and directed Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman.
But when he’s not discussing cars, he’s quite good on the track. Carolla has participated in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, winning in both the professional and celebrity categories, and even drove a Nissan 300ZX in the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb.
Caitlyn Jenner Traded One Track For The Other
Caitlyn Jenner traded in one track for another, switching from running to race car driving after her time as an Olympic athlete. Driving a 7-Eleven Roush Racing Ford Mustang, Jenner won the 12 Hours of Sebring competition, her first victory.
After showing her fierce nature on the track, Jenner was actually contacted about potentially driving for NASCAR Winston Cup Series team DiGard Motorsports. She expressed an interest in the offer, but it ultimately went to someone else.
Christine Kuo Fell In Love With Her Husband And Racing
Actress and beauty queen Christine Kuo definitely married the right guy because she had an exhilarating new hobby once she started seeing racecar driver William Lok. She began competing in celebrity races and, in 2015, participated in the Lotus Greater China Race in Zhuhai, China.
Recently, she’s joined Lok’s endurance racing team. Their goal is to snag both the Series championship title and the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup title.
Craig T. Nelson Founded Screaming Eagles Racing Team
Comedian Craig T. Nelson is a huge motorsports enthusiast and avid racecar driver. Since the early 90s, the actor has been competing in various races. His first being in 1991. That year, Nelson finished ninth at the Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix.
The following year, he founded Screaming Eagles Racing. After a few years, he entered the IMSA 1994 WSC driving a Toyota-engined Spice SE90. The team’s last season was in 1997, and Nelson drove a Ford-engined Riley & Scott MkIII during the championship race.
Wallace Reid Loved Cars On And Off The Screen
When it comes to Wallace Reid, his roles as the action hero and suave race car driver had people flocking to theaters. Interestingly, the silent film star actually loved racing off-screen, too.
One race he attempted to qualify for was the 1922 Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately, due to an injury he sustained a few years prior, he was unable to compete in the race. But that didn’t sway him for his love of the sport!
Rowan Atkinson Holds A C+E Lorry Driving License
Since 1981, actor Rowan Atkinson has held a category C+E lorry driving license, something he utilized during comedy sketches early in his career. He has since expanded his car selection.
Atkinson has also raced in a Renault 5 GT Turbo, a rare McLaren F1, an Audi A8, and more. One of the more recent events he participated in was the Aston Martin Owners Club event in 2001. Unfortunately, he wound up crashing his Aston Martin V8 Zagato. Whoops.
Matt LeBlanc Became A Top Gear Host
Fans of the sitcom Friends might find it difficult to see Matt LeBlanc in any other light other than the goofy Joey Tribbiani. But he’s actually a huge motorsports head, as seen when he joined BBC’s Top Gear as a host.
For three years, LeBlanc made a career out of driving fast and exotic cars around a race track, discussing the pros and cons of each one he drove. The actor even holds the fastest time in the segment “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.”
James Dean’s Dream Was To Race In The Indianapolis 500
After filming wrapped on East of Eden, James Dean went full-force into racing. First, he bought a few cars, including a Porsche 356, a Triumph Tiger T110 bike, and, of course, his iconic Porsche 550 Spyder. In 1955, he competed in his first event, the Palm Springs Road Races.
Apparently, Dean was good at everything he did because he finished in first place for the novice competition and second place during the main race. His ultimate dream was the race at the Indianapolis 500 but he was never able to get the time off.
Tim Allen Raced In the 24 Hours of Daytona
Tim Allen showed off his love for cars on screen in his roles as Mike Baxter in Last Man Standing and Tim the Toolman in Home Improvement. In real life, he’s spent more than a little time at the track.
Besides his collection of pretty cool cars, Allen has participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona, racing for Saleen in a Ford Mustang. He came in 58th out of a total of 80 drivers.
Shane Lynch Went From Typical Racing To Drifting
From 2002 to 2006, Boyzone singer Shane Lynch raced for the Eclipse Motorsport team during the British GT Championship, particularly a TVR, Marcos, and Mosler. Now, he’s expanded his motorsport reach and has become involved in drifting (very Fast and the Furious of him).
In 2016, Lynch participated in the British Drift Championship for Team Japspeed, debuting a brand new VH45 V8 powered Nissan 370Z. Lynch wound up finishing in second place.
Phoemela Baranda Raced For Team Philippine Arena
Filipina model Phoemela Baranda has been into racing since she was young and brought a Toyota Corolla TRD to her neighborhood’s local drag races. As she grew up, she swapped the drag races for some actual lessons.
It wasn’t long before she began participating in races, her first being a celebrity race in the 2000s. In 2018, she was asked to race for Team Philippine Arena in the Toyota Vios Cup, the team’s debut competition.
Walter Cronkite Drove A Lotus 11 While Giving Live Commentary
Walter Cronkite might’ve been a well-known journalist and broadcaster but in certain circles, he was a solid racecar driver. In 1959, he raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The next year, he drove a Lotus 11 around the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Miraculously, he was giving commentary during the entire event! Seventeen million people tuned in to the broadcast. Racecars were Cronkites passion and the first one he purchased was an Austin-Healey 100.
Frankie Muniz Went From Pace Car Driver To Signed Pro
Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz has pretty much always held an interest in race car driving. In 2004, he had his first shot on the track, finishing seventh at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach.
Then, in 2007, he drove in 12 races during the competitive Champ Car Atlantic Series. The following year, Muniz signed with Pacific Coast Motorsports, finishing the season in 11th place. That’s quite the step up from being the pace car driver at the Daytona 500.
CJ Wilson Went From Pro Baseball Player To Pro Racer
After finishing up playing professional baseball for a solid ten years, CJ Wilson decided to switch gears in a surprising way. After retirement, he founded and became the owner of CJ Wilson Racing. So, he can probably give himself a job.
During club races, Wilson competes in a Mazda MX-5. But that’s not the only car he owns. Wilson has quite a collection of Porches and even owns a custom-painted McLaren P1.
Jackie Cooper Drove Record-Breaking Class D Cars
Academy Award nominee Jackie Cooper was an avid racecar fan, participating in several automobile races during his time. One of the more impressive competitions Cooper participated in was at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where he drove record-breaking class D cars.
Some of his favorite cars to drive were Austin-Healeys. Nelson liked them so much that he was one of the first people to ever purchase the track-ready Austin-Healey 100S when it came out on the market.
Gene Hackman Won The Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race
Gene Hackman showed the world his love for racing in his film The French Connection. He performed around 60% of the fast-paced driving stunts! Outside of the movies, though, Hackman has proven himself a fierce driver on the race track.
In the 70s, the actor participated in a Sports Car Club of America race, driving an open-wheeled Formula Ford. The Academy Award-winning actor also won the Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race!
Brian Johnson Loves Racing Vintage Cars
As the third lead singer of the rock band AC/DC, Brian Johnson knows a thing or two about living life in the fast lane. He particularly enjoys racing his vintage cars, including a Pilbeam MP84 and Royale RP-4.
In 2012, Johnson competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, coming in 12th in the Daytona Prototype class. He’s since decided to share his love of cars with the world, creating Cars That Rock with Brian Johnson, a documentary that dives into some of Johnson’s favorite cars.
Jodie Kidd Was Invited To Join The Toora VIP Team
Jodie Kidd has proven that she is more than a fashion model; she can really handle herself behind the wheel of a fast-moving car. After setting the record speed on “Star in a reasonably priced car,” Masarati invited Kid to join the Toora VIP team.
In her third ever race, Kidd and her co-driver, Fabio Babini, wound up taking first place at the Maserati Trofeo Pro-Am event. It looks like it was a smart move for Masarati to pick up the model!
James Garner Fell In Love With Off-Roading
All it took for James Garner to fall in love with the sport of racing was appearing in the film Grand Prix. Soon after its release, the actor formed the American International Racers, a team that competed at Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans.
While he loved being on the track, one of his greatest passions was actually off-roading. He participated in the Baja 1000 in Mexico and, in 1978, Garner was even inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Nick Mason Has Participated In More Than One Race
Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is the proud owner of several classic cars, all of which he loves to take out onto the track and race. Some of the cars he’s raced include a Bugatti Type 35, a Ferrari BB LM, a McLaren F1 GTR, and a Maserati Tipo 61.
Mason has successfully raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and even won a race against Police drummer Stewart Copeland, securing the title of “fastest rock drummer from a band that begins with a P.”