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Hagerty Employee

11 Hollywood heroes who felt the need for speed

He’s played X-Men’s Magneto and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but Michael Fassbender’s toughest role yet was behind the wheel of a Mk2 Ford Escort on the Rally of the Lakes in Ireland. Fassbender—or “Fastbender,” as it says on his race suit—is a tidy driver on the track, and he’s got a win in the 2018 Ferrari Challenge North America and a season of Porsche Super Sports Cup to prove it. Rallying, however, would prove to be a very different and steep learning curve for the Irish-German actor.


Watch Fassbender in action on the Vero channel, and then check out ten other Hollywood heroes who have felt the need for speed below.


Read the full article on


I noticed that the list didn't include Tom Cruise. Just curious of why.


Just because you get in a race car learn how to race for a movie and then be in a few races does not make you a Race car driver. Good Actor, Great Movies, daring Stunts, But not in the same class as Newman, McQueen or Garner. These Men were serious about Racing. Cruise belongs off this list. 


What about Craig T. Nelson? Check his bonafides.



Jason Priestly, gave him his first novice trophy at a Rally Sprint in SoCal in a borrowed Honda CRX. In retrospect it sure looked like him, but the name was different. 


Jadon Priestly also raced in the Infiniti Pro Series, finshing second in his first race, behind AJ Foyt IV. Spent a few hours with him, about 15 years ago. A down to earth good guy.


In the 90s I sometimes shared trailer and pit space at Willow Springs with Marsha Mason. She was really impressive on the SCCA GT3 circuit and if I recall correctly raced for 6 or 7 years, in an competitive RX7.  Golden Globe awards, Oscar nominations, and some checkered flags! I think she qualifies. 

New Driver

Going a bit farther back, let's not forget Tim Considine and Jackie Cooper.

Pit Crew

ahhh, Fankie Muniz? 

Pit Crew

Hey what about James Garner's International Racing Team that campaigned ten 1969 Rambler Scramblers, some converted to 4X4, and won the Baja 500 in 1969 (also 3rd & 5th). You mention Broncos, Oldsmobiles and Meyers Manx, but as usual, AMC is ignored.

Intermediate Driver

AMC? Used to see them in the rear view mirror of the Saabs we raced in Baja back when real sedans used to tackle the 500 and the 1000.


Robert Carradine raced Shelby Dodges in the 80’s in numerous SCCA and IMSA events.

Intermediate Driver

I had the pleasure of competing with & against Bobby C in Go-Karts back in the 70's-80's. Bobby wasn't just screw'n around in racing, he was a true & passionate competitor who wanted badly to win! In the off-chance that BC reads this, Bobby Sanders Jr from Riverside says hey! 


Seeing that you were around Riverside in the 80's (hopefully mid to later also) I was wondering if you ever saw Chris Lawrence of Morgan fame?  He was known to be around the track in the 80's.  I have one of his cars a 1985 Marcos Mantula that has a letter stating it was a pace car at Riverside doesn't specifically state the year but I would expect it to be in 86 or so.


Richard  Smothers - Formula Ford in the 70's


Gene Hackman’s #97 is currently undergoing restoration in Ohio. 



I'm impressed that a 6'2" man raced a Formula Ford. I almost went to the Jim Russell School one year. I might have been lucky that it didn't work out, since even at 6'2" and 200 pounds getting into the FF I checked out at Button Willow would have required an unnatural act. 


How are any of these men to be considered a hero?


"HOLLYWOOD" Hero, that would be an actor who portrays the Good Guy on film or in theater as entertainment. I think most if not all of these individuals qualify.


Why should any of these men be considered a hero?

New Driver

Great article, but please stop referring to actors and sports figures as heroes.

A hero is some who would, or did give his life to save another.

New Driver

Totally agree.. Tired if Hollywood's elite being so much better than anyone else.  Especially when called hero's..  geez..  everyone is a hero by media standards now..


My guess,  just a guess.

Is that Bullitt owners think alike!

" best lookin horse in the glue factory "


308 Cal Bullitt


Oh, thank you for this!  It is such a "fad," or whatever, these days to refer to everyone from do-gooders to schoolgirls as "heroes." I was beginning to wonder if I might be the only person on Earth who considers it all balderdash!  It is an insult to the few real heroes who have actually existed.  Again, thank you.


Oh, thank you so much for this!  It has become a "fad," or whatever, to refer to anyone from a gravedigger to a schoolgirl as a "hero," an insult to all true heroes everywhere.  I was beginning to believe that I was the only person on Earth who viewed the misuse of the word "hero" as a lot of balderdash!  Again, thank you.

Pit Crew

The article is titled 'hollywood heroes...' ; Hollywood implies being on film, not in real life!  Like a 'paperback hero' would not even be a real person, nor would a sci fi hero and so on.  


Well, perhaps this covers a few of them:

Steve McQueen? - 4 years in the USMC with one citation -  "He saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea.”
Paul Newman? USN in World War II, and saw action and engaged the enemy in VT Torpedo Squadrons as amongst other things, a turret-gunner and radio-gunner.
Jim Garner, also served in WWII in the Merchant Marine, then joined the California Army National Guard, seed in the Korea War, and earned a couple of Purple Hearts, one as a result of friendly fire.

Gene Hackman? Also a marine, having served in China during the Communist Revolution.
However I think the article is talking about "Hollywood Heroes". Each of the folks on the list played a "make believe Hollywood Hero" in the movies or TV. Really. And a few of them actually fit the definition or real-life heroes from 20Bullit19: "A hero is some[sic] who would, or did give his life to save another."
Just sayin'



The are often "on screen" heroes.


In 1986, I had the honor of being employed as a "fly in guy" for Peerless Racing, which at the time was campaigning a GT-O class Camaro. One of our competitors was the famous Mr. Newman, who would occasionally retreat to our hauler to escape the hordes at the Planters Peanuts Nissan pit. He was a genuinely nice human being first and foremost, and just wanted to be regarded as a capable race car driver. Another visitor we used to shelter was the then-Bruce Jenner. I once loaned him a Peerless crew shirt so he could get some lunch in peace at Laguna Seca. Fun times, great people. And then there was the time I got to chat with Dan Gurney when we were racing at Del Mar...

Pit Crew

It’s almost not fair to include McQueen in this group. He was supporting himself with the income from his success at racing motorcycles at the beginning of his acting career.

Perhaps most notable amongst his racing accomplishments was his being selected to participate as a member of Team USA in the 1964 ISDT event where any success he had achieved in acting would have carried no weight at all. We’re it not for McQueen’s stardom, he likely would instead be thought of as the racer turned actor.


Actors and speed drivers but not hero’s


I was expecting to see Gary Cooper and Clark Gable side by side on Mulholland in their Duesenberg SSJs.

Intermediate Driver

My wife Tiffany's dad, "J Ward" created Rocky and Bullwinkle and many others, was a Hollywood car guy. Had the first Porsche Turbo. Fact, it was stolen the first week from Hollywood Park's parking lot, while he was watching his horse race.     Jim.

New Driver

i may get roasted for this. IMO. Big diff between guys who raced 1st and then got acting gigs.  Then guys who got character roles as racers,  then started racing,  both to promote there street cred as a bonifided car racers...

  and to look like they really are similar to the character they played in 1 or more movie roles,  involving fast cars,  or the perception of fast cars,  while sporting a whole 250hp 4 cyl ' muscle cars '. ( j/k)


Some of these guys, say had they became something like "famous pilots",  instead of racers, 

  if say ... there 1st role in a car related movie..

was or was not..  a Top Gun character type.


And then.....Above them all.

There is McQueen,  Newman, & a few others.  They are the real deal.  When you sleep in your shop so u dont hav a house or apt rent,  & need that extra money going into your racing budget to get on the track more often...things like that..

Who guys who never wrk in Hollywood do every day ..then & now.. just to race...I know I did..


U might be a real racer & a movie actor. 

When ur a millionaire though,

 and decided you wanna play race car driver.. & ok..maybe u can even actually drive.


Heck.  I know literally 100s of great drivers across drag racing , off road,  scca, circle trk dirt and asphalt.. that can drive well & got no Hollywood money to support the racing.


if these guys had Hollywood actor money,  they would hav gotten much more famous as race car drivers,  than they ever did,  or will.


People with REAL TALENT FOR DRIVING im speaking of.


but just didnt hav enough money to bk up there race program.


even when sleeping/living in there shops..  no motels.  Sleeping in car hauler.. on Sleeping bag..


& .. ...yeah... i clearly got an axe...

< grinding as i type>

Cuz i lived in my shop.  Slept in many traikers at track.


Tk showers at the gym every morning livin in my shop. 

  My dog even lived w/me .  It sorta Sucked having girl friends over.


But id DO  IT  ALL  AGAIN  if I could...&  be that younger me wouldnt,


& could giv it all another go...

..but 2 bk surgery's, 1 heart attack..

and an extremely major concussion... ...later..  takes its toll.


There's racers. & then Race drivers.

Then there are the real deal guys.

McQueen is clearly at the top of the list IMO. 

Frank Bullitt himself.  Period.. 


Ok.. go ahead & roast away..

I can take it.

I know what real racers look like,  and what they will do to get a car to the starting line.  Its far more than most people have ever sacrificed in there adult lives..IMO...


HUSQVARNA's & S550 Bullitt Stangs. ( Steve would love today)

Wish McQueen was alive today

too see a factory A/C car, w/

480hp w/3-36 warranty, n Naturally Aspirated,  @under $50k,

w/mag ride suspension,

6 spd gear box,

& Digital Fuel Injection ...


& pretty darn comfy interior- w' or w/o Recaro's as option..


He likely be the 1st of the group to jump in 1, physically or at least mentally, @ 90,

In say a Bullitt,

or on a Vintage Husky...& ride off.


& Id bet u never see him for days after he roasted the Michelin's out onto the street.

Or he'd wanna be out right now,

on the last of the real,  vintage '80s, Huskys or Husaberg's. 

 Choppin @ the

'Whoops of San Felipe' ,

on a 500cc open class bike like

"10 fins of Fury",  as I type..


Cuz he is that guy getting ready for a vintage race somewhere,  Id say..if alive...& body wrking....

@90 yrs old,  or not... 


RIP to all these men,  who clearly would not wanna be called Hero's,  nor were they Hero's.. to my knowledge...   maybe Im wrong.


  I Thk at least Steve & Gene served there countries,   no??  Without having to disrespect its flag, or anthem,   to my knowledge.   


 Any other service men on list?  Cuz if there not Hero's,  certainly  @ least deserve a thanks,  for serving the nation by their military service.   Id say.


Many on this list,  we can agree,

are either good & or great drivers.

..riders..,  pilots of racecars and  bikes.

Ok..  roast me..

 i can take it . LoL

Intermediate Driver

Oh hell, on Saturday night after they opened the pits and the kids would come down from the stands for autographs we were hairy chested hero race car drivers. Relax and let us have our fantasy.

New Driver

First I agree with others here, no one in Hollywood deserves to be called a hero,......except maybe WWII bomber pilot Jimmy Stewart. 


Lorenzo Lamas, Dickie Smothers and Tim Allen are all also worthy of mention in any list of Hollywood racer/motorheads. I will say that I'm glad you didn't include Tom Cruise, who was so bad during his time driving Bob Sharp Datsuns, that it was suggested that the SCCA should change their name from the Sports Car Club of America, to "See Cruise Crash Again".



You left out Marty Robbins who raced in NASCAR.


You left out Marty Robbins who raced in NASCAR along the likes of Richard Petty.

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Brian O'Connor and his Skyline. My all-time favorite. Legend.

Pit Crew

TV Tommy Ivo of drag racing fame .

Pit Crew

Good article except for the word "heroes".

We have very few heroes in our society and it is an inaccurate term used too much.