Five Celebrity Racers from the Past 60 Years

Celebrities are different from us regular folks. They make more money, for one thing. They also age slower, get more lucky, and tend to get away with stuff that would send you and me up the river for life.

For some stars, however, the perks of being in the public eye pale before the rush that can only come from driving a high-powered machine at breakneck speeds. In honor of these brave souls, we present a look at five celebrities for whom racing is a passion unmatched by anything the silver screen can offer.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen

“Racing is life,” said McQueen’s character in the film Le Mans. “Everything else is just waiting.” This attitude was mirrored in the movie star’s real life devotion to motorsports. In 1970 he came in 3rd in the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring, failing to win first place by a scant 23 seconds.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

This actor won fame in 1979 when he came in second at Le Mans on his first try. In 1995 he became the oldest driver ever to win the 24 Hours of Daytona.

George Lucas

George Lucas

Had it not been for a near-fatal crash in his teens, Lucas might have gained fame for his racing ability, rather than his insanely popular popcorn flicks. In 2007 he got behind the wheel again, competing in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri

If you’ve never heard of this dude, then you’ve never seen the Food Channel’s hit show Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. In it, Fieri crosses the country in a ’67 Camaro trying out funky little eateries. Also an auto nut, Fieri drove the pace car at this year’s Indy 500.

James Dean

James Dean

We saved the best for last. Dean’s philosophy of a fast life followed by an early death probably explains his reckless racing style while on the track. The studio forbade him from driving competitively, but unfortunately they couldn’t keep him off public roads. Hence the fatal crash in 1955 that made him immortal.

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Image Credit: Solar ProductionsGetty ImagesMichael Conroy

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