On January 11, actor Frankie Muniz, most known for his titular role in the popular sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, announced that he would be racing in NASCAR's ARCA Menards Series in 2023. Driving for Rette Jones Racing, the 37-year-old Muniz will run in 20 races this year, starting with the inaugural event at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, a day before the Daytona 500.
To bring the next chapter of his career to even more potential fans, Muniz is teaming up with NEO Studios to create a docuseries that will chronicle his new journey as a NASCAR driver. Tentatively called Frankie in the Fastlane, the series will feature exclusive interviews with family, friends, fellow competitors, and Muniz himself as he balances the demands of his new racing career with fatherhood (his wife Paige gave birth to their son Mauz on March 22, 2021) and manages the expectations of his challenging new endeavor.
"I'm proud of my past accomplishments and for being remembered as Malcolm, for example. It's a great feeling to have made an impact on people in that way, but when I'm in that seat, in the car and on the track, I know in my soul that racing as a professional driver is what I was made to do," Muniz said in a statement. "I'm excited to partner with a company like NEO Studios that really understands sports and competition programming, and to bring viewers along on this crazy journey and share my love of racing with the world."
Muniz's docuseries has yet to be officially picked up by a streaming service, though he seems to be in good hands with NEO Studios, which produced such projects as Discovery+'s Legacy: In the Shadow of Greatness and Amazon's Life After.
"Frankie put everything on the line to pursue his passion and become a professional racer," Mike Basone, NEO Studios' head of unscripted and Frankie in the Fastlane executive producer, said.
"That alone is inspiring, but he also had to overcome countless obstacles -- including injuries, media scrutiny and more -- to get where he is today. NEO is drawn to telling unique sports-centric stories that showcase human triumph and we're truly honored to follow Frankie on this quest."
#NEOStudios is proud to announce our partnership with Frankie Muniz in ?Frankie in the Fastlane? (working title) - a new all-access docuseries that will follow Muniz throughout the 2023 season of the NASCAR-owned ARCA Menards Series. https://t.co/MkZ4Wdvasb pic.twitter.com/IjghkRoqGu
— NEO STUDIOS (@NEOStudiosHQ) January 23, 2023
As it turns out, Muniz isn't a Johnny-come-lately to the auto racing scene. His love for the sport traces back over 20 years, when he drove the pace car for the 2001 Daytona 500. Muniz got to meet Dale Earnhardt Sr. shortly before the race and was one of the last people to see the NASCAR legend before his fatal last-lap crash.
Muniz actually competed for the first time in 2004, running in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, California. He ultimately placed seventh, while the following year, he raced to a third-place finish. Muniz also ran in 14 races during the 2006 Formula BMW USA season, and in 2007, 2008, and 2009, he ran three seasons in the Champ Car Atlantic Series. His stock car racing debut came on October 23, 2021 for the SRL Pro Late Model series, when he ran in the race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California. But, his move to the ARCA Series represents the biggest stage thus far in his racing career. Still, Muniz seems more than ready for the challenge.
"Ever since childhood, it's been my dream to pursue racing in NASCAR, and it was important for me to partner with a team that aligned with my long-term objectives and vision while providing every opportunity imaginable to grow mentally and physically as a full-time race car driver," Muniz said in a statement following his January 11 announcement.
"I look forward to not only demonstrating my ability on the track and just how serious how I am in progressing in my racing career but also showing my son and family what it is to chase your dreams and reinvent yourself."
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