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Hollywood superstars that are kings of the track

Hollywood superstars that are kings of the track - News

They’re actors who can race. Or are they racers who can act? With the forthcoming annual Oscars ceremony on 27th March, we're looking at some famous actors who have taken to the track and raced in real life.

Steve McQueen

The original King of Cool, McQueen raced on two wheels and four. He represented the USA at the 1964 International Six Day Trials (ISDT) motorcycle Enduro/trials, and finished second overall to the factory Ferrari team in the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring despite having a foot in plaster! He was also a competitive desert racer, entering the Baja 1000, Mint 400 and Elsinore Grand Prix.

Beyond his iconic 1971 film 'Le Mans', cars and bikes featured in many McQueen films: the famous bike jump in 'The Great Escape', the car chase in 'Bullitt' and the dune buggy in 'The Thomas Crown Affair'.

Paul Newman

Famous for films such as 'The Hustler', 'Cool Hand Luke' and 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid' Newman discovered his love of racing after starring in 'Winning', a film about a racer who dreamed of winning the Indy 500. He went on to win SCCA National Championships in the US and competed in a number of endurance races, finishing second in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979 at the advanced age of 54 in a race so fanciful it could've been scripted in Hollywood!

Newman formed his own team with Gene Haas (of Haas F1 team fame). The Newman/Haas team competed in both the CART and IndyCar series, becoming the most successful IndyCar team of all time. At age 70, Newman was also the oldest driver in a winning team during 24 Hours of Daytona and continued racing until days before he died, always using a racing number that matched his age.

James Garner

Like Newman, James Garner got the bug for racing following his appearance in 'Grand Prix' (a role Steve McQueen bizarrely turned down). Garner is famous for TV series and films such as 'The Great Escape' (with Steve McQueen!), 'Maverick' and 'The Rockford Files'. Following praise from the great Graham Hill, Garner formed the American International Racers (AIR) team which competed at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring.

Garner also took part in three Indianapolis 500s, but his passion was off-road racing. In 1969 his team successfully prepared AMC Ramblers for the notorious Baja 500 off-road race, and in the 1969 Mexican 1000, Garner himself drove an Oldsmobile to second place. He also competed in the Baja 1000 in Mexico and was inducted into the Off-Road Racing Hall of Fame in its inaugural year.

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey may be best known for playing Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy, but he was also very accomplished behind the wheel. With races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, the World Endurance Championship, Grand-Am, ALMS and the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Dempsey managed to grab his first podium finish at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing in second place in the amateur class.

Dempsey's racing pedigree extends to off-road events including the Baja 1000 and Mint 400 and even though he's taken a step back from racing, he still owns and runs his Dempsey-Proton team.

Eric Bana

Above acting in films such as 'Chopper', 'Troy' and 'Munich', Eric Bana has been involved in racing and rallying for years. Eric is the proud owner of a 1974 Ford Falcon race car (bought when he was 15), itself the subject of Bana's film 'Love The Beast' in which he documents rebuilding the Falcon and then proceeding to crash it during the Targa Tasmania Rally.

Bana has also raced in the Australia Porsche Championship, the famous Bathurst 12 Hours and both the Australian GT and Production Car Championships. A bike fan, he is also writing, co-directing and starring in a film about Mike "The Bike" Hailwood's magnificent 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback race.

So, if you want to emulate the stars and drive motors from the movies click here to view some of our Famous Movie Car Experiences. Book directly on our Events Calendar or purchase one of our Gift Vouchers!

25 February 2022
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