‘I Couldn’t Keep Putting It Off’: Actor Turned Race Car Driver Frankie Muniz Delights Employees at WHQ

May 16, 2023

Frankie Muniz had a successful acting career where he notably depicted a precocious pre-teen with a chaotic family life as the title character in the series “Malcolm in the Middle.” But it wasn’t until he had his own child two years ago that he realized he needed to get back behind the wheel of a race car.

Muniz started racing after the TV series wrapped in 2006, but a serious injury in 2009 put his new career in park. After a 14-year hiatus, Muniz, 37, is back on the track, driving the No. 30 Rette Jones Racing Ford Mustang in the ARCA Menards National Championship Series. He’s even hoping to advance to the NASCAR Xfinity Series after this season.

“I knew I wanted to go back (to racing), but life happened,” said Muniz, who pursued other opportunities including joining a band and starting an olive oil company in the interim but regained his focus as a new father. He didn’t want his son to think that he had not chased his dreams to his fullest potential.

“If I wanted this, I couldn’t keep putting it off,” Muniz said during a recent Q&A at Ford World Headquarters moderated by Jeff Striegle, an announcer from Motor Racing Network. “I’ve jumped around in my life and done a lot of things, but I had the ability to choose where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. … I wanted the challenge and I’m working really hard to be the best driver possible and hopefully win races this year.”

Frankie Muniz Click to Enlarge

Now that he’s back in racing, and leading the series after three races, Muniz knows there was nowhere else he is supposed to be.

“I love racing cars,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I got back into the car. This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”

More than 100 Ford employees, many of whom brought their children to World Headquarters for Bring Your Child to Work Day, attended the Q&A, which saw Muniz’s race car on display. He also signed autographs for the audience after the wide-ranging conversation ended.

Muniz at the REVC Click to Enlarge

Before the event, Muniz also visited the Rouge Electrical Vehicle Center and met with Ford leaders. Later, he took a handful of lucky employees for hot laps in a 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse at M1 Concourse in Pontiac.

Muniz drove the F-150 Lighting to the plant – “it was so smooth and so quiet,” he said – where he was amazed at the assembly process. “It blew my mind,” said Muniz. “I had an image of what it was going to be like, but it far exceeded my expectations how precise it was with all the steps and how much goes into it. I have such a greater appreciation for my street vehicles now.” 

While taking questions from the audience, Muniz revealed he recently received encouragement, and a bit of concern, from his TV dad, actor Bryan Cranston. The latter who lends his voice to various Ford advertising campaigns, is also familiar to Ford fans. The two caught up prior to Muniz’s debut in the Ford Mustang at Daytona International Speedway.

“He was a true father figure to me through my whole life,” Muniz said. “Even 16 years later, he’s always so interested and supportive of what I’m doing.”

Hadeal Al-Safadi got a seat in the front row. Click to Enlarge

Employees who attended the Q&A were selected from a drawing on @FordOnline. Hadeal Al-Safadi, a computer engineer for Ford Credit who grew up watching “Malcolm in the Middle” with her siblings, was shocked to win the spot and arrived early to get a seat in the front row.

“After I saw the email that I had won a spot, I was so psyched when I was getting on my morning meeting with my co-workers and bragging about it,” she said. “I took a lot of pictures (at the event) and it was very surreal in the best way.”

Muniz will be in Michigan again in August when the ARCA series visits Michigan International Speedway. He closed the event by thanking Ford and Ford Performance for their support of his racing team, as they move through the ARCA racing season. 

“I am so happy to be a part of the Ford family,” he said. “When I look down at my racing suit and it says Ford, it means a lot. As a driver, that means everything to have the support of an auto manufacturer behind you. … The fact that I was invited here (to Ford’s World Headquarters), and you all showed up to see me – it means the world to me. It makes me feel more like a race car driver because I’m still having to prove it to myself.

Frankie Muniz Visits Ford

Frankie Muniz Autograph Session at Ford WHQ