Hooniverse Asks: Who is History's Greatest Part-Time Racer?

Yesterday we saw a trailer for an upcoming movie about a race driver who also happened to be a movie star. That’s a lot more common than you might think, and began long before Paul Newman started either of his two careers. In fact, you can go all the way back to a 1933 race between Eddie Miller in a 1931 Duesenberg Model J and Arthur Marx – better known as Zeppo – in his 1928 Mercedes S Boat-tail.
Celebrities who have also dabbled in racing have long since been commonplace, and many – such as Newman and Steve McQueen – have gained notoriety for their on-track exploits, almost as much as the ones on-screen. But which semi-pro has gained the most notoriety? Who do you think is history’s greatest part-time racer?
Image: FreeShopManual.com


  1. Does Danica Patrick count? I know that she was a racer first, but now she seems to be more of a celebrity than a racer.

  2. It’s kind of hard to argue with Paul Newman at the top of the list — I mean, the man won Daytona at 70! But does anyone currently alive and racing even come close?

  3. James Dean didn’t have an enduring racing career due to his untimely death, but he is extremely imitated in Hollywood, and made it cool to race.
    LOL at the lede photo, Graverobber.

  4. Really the top three would probably be Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Garner. Garner did lots of Baja stuff and was a team owner.

  5. I’ll put Patrick Dempsey up there. Now that he’s been killed off on Grey’s Pornography Anatomy, maybe he’ll have some more time for driving, and team management.

    1. I checked, Dempsey appears to be a decent driver, but doesn’t have a single win in any series of note.

      1. He’s in WEC this year. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. They finished 6th in class at Silverstone, which was second to last.

      1. Yeah, two race cars and spares inside and, yes, that is his personal DD Corvette up top!

  6. Slightly off topic but Gary Numan was an aerobatic pilot and instructor for along time which should qualify as one of the more awesome side jobs.

    1. He regularly flies, or certainly used to, over my house in a Harvard. I’ve got a feeling that these days he flies a Hunting Jet Provost (Or BAC Strikemaster, I can never remember which).

  7. Doesn’t Neil Peart from Rush race in 24 Hours of LeMons?

    I don’t know how successful he’s been, but, hey, he raced in LeMons, so that means instant greatness.

      1. That is a nice read and I would love to read more of his stuff but this olelongrooffan never again wants to hear about my third person writing style. Oh Wait. I’m Not Neil Peart. Never Mind, Nothing Here, Move Along.

  8. Paul Newman will always be the right answer, but Marty Robbins had some big iron on the track as well as his hip. 35 career NASCAR races with six top-10 finishes.

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