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

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23 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Who is History's Greatest Part-Time Racer?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    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.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      By that logic, Travis Pastrana could also be included.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    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. 0A5599 Avatar

    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. P161911 Avatar

    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. dukeisduke Avatar

    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. P161911 Avatar

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

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Which is probably why he’s moving into team ownership and management.

      2. engineerd Avatar

        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.

  6. longrooffan Avatar

    Does a straight line racer count? Although James and Paul get my votes.

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      That has to be the coolest tow rig I’ve ever seen!

      1. longrooffan Avatar

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

  7. mzszsm Avatar

    I don’t know how successful he is, but Brian Johnson of AC/DC seems to be having a good time at least. http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02885/Johnson1_2885127k.jpg

    1. P161911 Avatar

      He even has his wife out on the track.
      A few years ago he was racing some sort of high power sports racer/Can-Am style car and she was racing a Spridget.

  8. countersteer Avatar

    Walter Payton had a spin in SCCA racing after he retired from football. He later partnered with Dale Coyne for an Indycar team. http://articles.latimes.com/1999/nov/02/sports/sp-28997

  9. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    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. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      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).

  10. Guest Avatar

    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. mzszsm Avatar
      1. longrooffan Avatar

        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.

  11. Jeepster Avatar

    greatest part time racer, that won many many times …. David Pearson … I win !

  12. XRSevin Avatar

    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.