Frankie Muniz, better known as “Malcolm”, begins his career in NASCAR
(Associated Press) — There may be a reboot on the horizon for actor Frankie Muniz, one aptly titled “Malcolm in the Middle of a Pileup.”
Muniz, who starred in “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Agent Cody Banks,” announced this week that he is competing as a full-time race car driver in the ARCA Menards Series. It is a lower-level feeder series to NASCAR—a series that usually features less experienced drivers—and would serve as a launching pad for Muniz’s automaking career.
The 37-year-old Muniz got behind the wheel of Rhett Jones Racing’s No. 30 Ford during Friday’s test session at Daytona International Speedway and said, “I’ve wanted this my whole life.”
His first of 20 races scheduled for 2023 will be held at Daytona on February 18th.
“I want to prove to people that I’m here to take it seriously,” Muniz said during the half-hour Zoom with reporters. “I’m not here for luck. I’m not here just for publicity. I’ve wanted this my whole life, you know what I mean?”
“I’m mad because I waited 12 years after my last racing experience to get here. I want people to look at me and see me on track and go, ‘Wow, it belongs’ and I’m ready to prove to everyone what I’m doing. I hope I do.”
A longtime racing enthusiast, Muniz drove the sprint car for the 2001 Daytona 500—a race in which he killed seven-time Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt on the last lap. Coincidentally, Muniz’s chassis set to drive at Daytona in the ARCA season opener was driven by Sterling Marlin on that fateful day more than two decades ago.
Muniz said Earnhart signed his jacket before the race and even told him he loved “Malcolm in the Middle.”
“Your show brought me and my daughter so close,” he said. “I love your show,” Muniz recalls. “And it was crazy to me that Dale Earnhardt told me that.”
Muniz has always been a fan of racing and first began considering becoming a professional driver in 2004 after competing in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, California. He has also competed in Formula BMW events as well as the Champ Car Atlantic Series.
His last full-time season came in 2009. He said he broke his back, broke his ankle and had a pin inserted into his hand after a collision. He has raced sporadically since then.
Instead of getting back into the race car right away, he became the drummer for the indie rock band Kingsfoil. Recently, he married Paige Price and they have a son in 2021.
“It took me longer to heal than I thought,” Muniz said. “Not that you have to start over, but I missed a whole season and got a chance to join a band. And I know crazy sounds. I was touring around the world playing drums, so a lot of things took over my life and I sank into 100%.
“I always thought in the back of my mind that I was going to get back to racing. As the years went on, it just felt like it was getting farther and farther away. So when I had my son 19 months ago, it honestly made me go, ‘What am I? who am I? Who do I want to be to my son or what do I want him to see me do? “
Muñiz decided he wanted to race again.
“That’s what I always felt I was most comfortable doing. … As a matter of fact, I’m too old to start in the racing world,” he said. “But in that same sense it motivates me that I should take the chance I have today.
“I don’t have time to wait. So I hope it helps progress, and I go a little faster because I have the motivation. I’m in the right mindset.”
He expects so many “Malcolm in the Middle” jokes during races that he even considers making T-shirts to sell at events.
“I’m going to take advantage of it before someone else does,” he said.
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