Celebrities are people, too. They often enjoy things more than just what made them famous. Many famous singers, musicians, actors, and sports legends are fans of NASCAR. There’s definitely a sense of pride that comes with NASCAR, and the races are some of the most watched TV events around. That might be surprising to some, who only see it as people turning left for three hours, but there’s a lot of technicality, talent, and focus that goes into becoming a NASCAR driver.
NASCAR racers are some of the most elite athletes in the world. They might sit behind a wheel, but they’ve trained their bodies for all sorts of things; to keep their heart rate down, to make sure their adrenaline doesn’t take over, and to be able to focus for long periods on the race at hand. It’s a very tedious sport, yet also can become explosive in a split second, and people who love NASCAR adore it more than almost anything else.
Such is the case with many of the celebrities on this list. Most of the celebrities here were chosen at one point in time to be the Grand Marshal at a big NASCAR event, such as the Daytona 500. The Grand Marshal is responsible for uttering the most famous phrase in racing: “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
Many of the celebrities here might be unexpected NASCAR fans, but that could also be because NASCAR generally gets a pretty bad reputation amongst people who don’t care for the sport. But events like the Daytona 500 bring together celebrities from all walks of life, and it’s usually a time filled with smiles and high-octane energy.
Here are 25 celebrities who are also NASCAR fans.
25 Chris Evans
Captain America actor Chris Evans is no stranger to NASCAR. He not only has a super sweet car collection, but he was also the 2014 Grand Marshal at the Daytona 500 NASCAR event, on February 24 of that year. It only seems fitting that Captain America would be the Grand Marshal for the event, as Cap is not only a true leader, but also very deserving to give the command to start your engines at the sport most often viewed as being the most patriotic.
24 Jimmy Fallon
Late night host and star Jimmy Fallon is another big fan of NASCAR, having had multiple racers on his talk show, and even competing in a faux race against retired legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. (which he lost). In another show, Championship 4 drivers and Cup title contenders Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano raced Fallon with RC cars over a course. In 2009, Fallon was the Grand Marshal for the LifeLock.com 400. At the Chicagoland Speedway, he power slid to the starting line to deliver the most famous phrase in racing.
23 Ryan Reynolds
The versatile actor Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to NASCAR, just as much as he’s no stranger to gripping drama, action, and comedy. On June 7, 2009, Reynolds served s the Grand Marshal at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 500, in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Reynolds has also shown up at shows like Top Gear to take part in their Star in a Reasonably Priced Car skit. At the Pocono event, he made sure not to make light of the situation and delivered the phrase with powerful enunciation.
22 January Jones
Actress January Jones is famous for her role as Don Draper’s wife and then ex on the popular drama, Mad Men, and she looked sleek in a leather jacket when she showed up at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2009 at the Kansas Speedway. During the event, presented by Kraft Foods, the 31-year-old blonde greeted Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was driving the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. This was during the time when Mad Men was still on the air, so Jones was at the top of the world at the time.
21 Ashton Kutcher
Besides being a well-loved actor, humanitarian, and philanthropist, Ashton Kutcher also enjoys NASCAR, though he offended a few fans years ago. Earlier this year, he showed up at a NASCAR event with That 70s Show co-stars Danny Masterson and Sam Elliott. In 2005, Kutcher offended some at the Daytona 500 when he referred to the race as “the most redneck sport on the planet.” Apparently, he said this after getting in an argument with some of the NASCAR bosses, who had a word with him about his attire. He was the honorary starter that year, anyway.
20 Matthew McConaughey
Ashton Kutcher might refer to the sport as the most “redneck” on the planet, but for Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, it’s right in his wheelhouse. The" alright, alright, alright" tar probably wouldn’t be too offended to be mixed in with the redneck crowd, given his Texan roots. McConaughey was named the Grand Marshal of the Daytona 500 in 2005 and in 2011. It’s not that surprising that McConaughey is a NASCAR fan, and truly, he must love the sport in order to be picked as the Grand Marshal twice.
19 Mark Wahlberg
Wherever actor Mark Wahlberg goes, he brings a huge entourage. It was no exception for the times when he’s been spotted at multiple NASCAR events. The Boston native also took part in a commemoration video honoring Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he retired, thanking him for his 20 years in the sport. Adam Sandler, Brian Williams, Brad Paisley, the Carolina Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen, and Washington Redkins (Earnhardt’s favorite NFL team) also appeared in the tribute video. If you’re going to make a tribute video about one of the sport’s greatest, that means you must really love it.
18 Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser might have been out of the spotlight in recent years—culminating in many people telling the media to “leave Brendan alone,” when he was spotted a bit out of shape—but the original Mummy actor is still a NASCAR fan. In 2008, Brendan was chosen as the Grand Marshal for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the Chicagoland Speedway. On July 12 of that year, he gave the famous words for the racers to start their engines. That year, he also posed with some famous people, such as driver Ryan Newman and singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam.
17 Adam Sandler
Funnyman Adam Sandler is having a renaissance of sorts, what with his hugely-popular Netflix standup routine. Earlier in his career, he was also chosen as the Grand Marshal of a NASCAR event, a sport which he loves, and he was considered one of the best Grand Marshals in recent memory. He told the drivers to start their engines in 2015. In 2017, NASCAR drivers met with Adam Sandler to star in his goofy NASCAR movie clip, with Sandler complete in a Sandy Wexler get-up, a Billy Madison-esque voice, an Average Joe costume, and dated pop culture knowledge.
16 Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey is most famous for being an actor, but he’s also a pretty accomplished race car driver. In 2015, he had a career racing season and then decided to take a break from the sport to focus on his family and acting career, after recently reconciling with his estranged wife. His Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche squad ended 2015 ranked sixth in the GTE-Am standings, and he topped the podium at the Fuji round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
15 Kevin James
Comedian and actor Kevin James has come quite a long way since his time on funny sitcoms, and one of his most popular shticks is his role in Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Well, he took the Blart get-up to NASCAR in recent years. But before then, in 2010, he was beside Adam Sandler as the two gave the command to start your engines. NBC Sports journalist Daniel McFadin told NBC Sports that he believes, “Since 2007, I’ve firmly believed Kevin James should be NASCAR’s designated command to start engines person.” Recently, James showed up to chase NASCAR drivers on his Paul Blart Segway, in hilarious fashion.
14 Gerard Butler
In 2016, model and actress Charlotte McKinney and actor Gerard Butler showed up for some NASCAR, with Butler being the Grand Marshal for the Daytona 500. But it was McKinney who stole the spotlight, showing up in a white romper and showing her figure for everyone to see—and much to NASCAR fans’ delight. At that Daytona 500, WWE superstar John Cena drove the pace car. The Carl’s Jr model, McKinney, looked relaxed when she was hanging out with Cena and Butler, though the same couldn’t be said about Butler.
13 Michael Bay
Famous Transformers director and explosion connoisseur Michael Bay showed up at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to wheel the pace car around the track as part of his campaign to promote the DVD release of his latest movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Bay said his first direct exposure to NASCAR came at a young age, and he said, “It’s a long way to go to drive a pace car 45 miles an hour, but it is pretty exciting when you have 43 drivers behind you.”
12 Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper isn’t only a NASCAR fan, but he’s also a regular attendee, showing up regularly at events and getting immense press coverage. For instance, in 2010 he was spotted with Jessica Biel at a NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Coca-Cola 600. But they were still there to promote something: their A-Team promo run, with Cooper giving interviews. They also showed up with the rest of the cast of the re-launched A-Team film, including Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (taking on Mr. T’s iconic role).
11 Kurt Russell
Back in 2007, actor Kurt Russell showed up at the NASCAR Kobalt Tools 500, along with co-workers and the cast from the film Grindhouse, which was a particularly scary film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Kurt Russell was also seen alongside racer Carl Edwards, who he befriended, and it almost seemed like the actor had a stake in the race. Either way, Kurt Edwards is a fan of NASCAR, that much is clear, even though the movie he was promoting didn’t do too well at the box office.
10 Kevin Costner
Actor Kevin Costner has quite a history with NASCAR. First, he’s friends with the late legend, Richard Petty, who he was seen posing with at numerous events. He also appeared and helped produce the 2008 film, NASCAR: Ride of Their Lives, a documentary directed by Rory Karpf. Costner narrated the film. He was named the ceremonial Grand Marshal of the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 500 in 2007, which took place at the California Speedway. Costner was also named spokesman for NASCAR Day in 2009, and the next day, his country band performed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
9 Vince Vaughn
Actor and comedian Vince Vaughn has a history with NASCAR, and was chosen as the 2015 Daytona 500 Grand Marshal. At the event, Vaughn noted that he loves NASCAR’s never-ending drama. Vaughn was a Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan growing up and keeps tabs on the sport. Vaughn knows there are two types of drivers: those who drive respectfully and those who take a little more than they give, according to USA Today. Vaughn said, “I liked the way the Intimidator (Earnhardt Sr.) would get out there and fight and compete. As a fan, you love to see that.”
8 Tom Cruise
Ageless actor Tom Cruise seems to be a big fan of all mechanical things: airplanes, tanks, cars, and NASCAR. He starred in the 1990 film, Days of Thunder, as a young man entering into the high-pressure world of NASCAR. A stunt driver remembers having to teach Tom Cruise not to turn right while racing, according to USA Today, when Cruise grazed the wall after squirming right during a spin out. Cruise is also friends with legendary racer Jeff Gordon and has been seen in multiple pictures with him.
7 Hugh Laurie
In 2009, famous House, MD actor, Hugh Laurie, showed up at the Auto Club 500 to deliver the starting phrase, at the Auto Club Speedway. At the time, Laurie described himself as “a NASCAR virgin,” but said he was very excited. Crash.net interviewer said, “As an elite athlete yourself, would you ever consider driving a stock car?” To which he responded, “I would love to do that, but I don’t imagine I would have a hundredth of the talent necessary to do it.” When asked the fastest he’d ever gone in a car, he said, “I’ve been driven around a track in a McLaren F1 at about 170 mph.”
6 Ron Perlman
Actor Ron Perlman might be famous for his time on FX’s Sons of Anarchy and the Hellboy films, among others, but he’s also starred in the 2011 film, NASCAR: The Chase, as himself. Perlman also appeared in the 2008 NASCAR Illustrated magazine, a Sports Illustrated issue devoted to the sport. Clearly, if he’s in a film about NASCAR, the legendary actor is quite a NASCAR fan. He’s also been spotted at multiple NASCAR events, talking with drivers and getting pictures taken, such as at the Pepsi 500 practice.
5 Kiefer Sutherland
In 2004, actor Kiefer Sutherland, famous for his role as Jack Bauer in 24, starred in NASCAR: The IMAX Experience. The film’s tagline read: “The world of today’s elite NASCAR drivers is explored in this larger-than-life, adrenaline filled documentary. Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.” Sutherland brought NASCAR to Hollywood, and he also showed up at many events, like at the Champions Week in 2011, and alongside Cindy McCain (late statesman John McCain’s wife), at Pocono Raceway in 2008, during McCain’s presidential run.
4 Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan may be the best basketball player of all time (and the richest), but he also has a competitive nature in just about anything, including NASCAR. He befriended NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, and then tried to start up his own motorsports team, which ended up failing. Denny Hamlin buys courtside tickets to Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets, and he also became a racer for Jordan’s NASCAR team, in a unique partnership. Denny even sported the Air Jordan logo during his NASCAR extravaganza.
3 Adrien Brody
Actor Adrien Brody, famous for his Oscar-worthy performance in The Pianist, has quite a history with motorsports. At the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2014, he revved his engine to indulge his love for the charity race. He said about the Toyota Grand Prix, “You are pretty much flying on adrenaline and going at full throttle.” He also appeared at the 2009 Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Brody is a successful racer in his own right, and at the Grand Prix event, he showed a range of skills much better than an average actor’s.
2 James Franco
In 2013, James Franco showed up at the Daytona 500 to promote his upcoming film, “Oz, the Great and Powerful.” He was the Grand Marshal for that year, the person who spouts the legendary opening lines: “Gentlemen, start your engines!” However, for Franco, he thought the opening phrase didn’t really work, since there were female drivers in the race that year. So he amended the phrase and gave a special shout-out to Danica Patrick at the same time, saying, “Drivers and Danica, start your engines!”
1 David Spade
David Spade is a comedian and actor and also a true NASCAR fan—the Joe Dirt actor embraces his “redneck” roots and often shows up at NASCAR events, such as the Southern 500 in 2003, at Darlington Raceway. He also made friends with racer Kurt Busch back in 2017, and he served as the Grand Marshal at the 57th annual Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, at the Daytona International Speedway. He was there to promote his new film, Joe Dirt 2.
Sources: USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and Daytona International Speedway.