Archive > December 2006
Up: West Palm Beach
December 11, 2006 - Jensen MotorSport continues
it's busy off-season program with 4 more test
days planned the week of December 18th.
First off, the team tests at the Moroso
MotorSports Park road course near West Palm Beach
Florida on December 18th & 19th. Frankie
Muniz concludes his 6 day allocation in the Swift
016. Also, Tom Sutherland gets his first chance
to drive a ChampCar Atlantic.
Team owner Eric Jensen states, "Frankie's
off-season testing has gone extremely well. At
last week's test in Houston Texas, Frankie's
times were very competitive. The team has given
Frankie the maximum testing possible, and he's
responding very well."
For more details about the Jensen MotorSport
team, and our drivers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Malcolm star Muniz trades
acting for racing
December 10, 2006 - ANGLETON - As Malcom in the
long-running Fox television series Malcolm
in the Middle, Frankie Muniz spent much of
his time navigating life with obstacles in his
Seven seasons and 151 episodes later, the show
ended in May, but that didnt slow down
Muniz. In fact, quite the opposite effect
resulted, with Muniz swerving at a faster pace
than ever these days.
Muniz was hard at work just outside Angleton
on Thursday, driving on the Motor Sports Ranch
Houston road course working on his new career as
a race car driver.
Ive always wanted to race, but I
never knew what the first step would be,
Muniz said. I did the Toyota Pro-Celebrity
Grand Prix of Long Beach, where they have a
pro-celebrity race, for three years and I won all
of them. It was fun, but it wasnt real
racing. So when the show was coming to an end, I
was actually starting a NASCAR team that I was
going to own.
Instead of becoming a NASCAR owner, the
21-year-old decided to get behind the wheel. His
opportunity came in February at the same course
he raced on last week, when he was seeing if he
had what it takes to get into the business.
Eric Jensen, who owns my team, knew I
wanted to start driving and start racing and
offered to let me have a test drive, Muniz
said. Now I am back here nine months later,
racing in the Champ Car Atlantic series.
With Jensen Motorsports, Muniz is on a
two-year program to learn the intricacies of car
racing. After spending this season in the Formula
BMW USA circuit and reaching speeds of 140 mph,
Muniz has moved up to the Champ cars.
One of the goals Muniz was looking to
accomplish while at the Brazoria County track is
getting accustomed to speeds of 180 mph. While
not much physical training was needed for reading
lines on Malcolm, his new career has him sweating
quite a bit.
I train every single day physically by
lifting two hours a day and running five miles a
day, Muniz said. Right now, I am only
at 30 percent at the physical level I need to be
for next April when the season starts.
Muniz said he has come to understand that the
only way he can be successful in the sport is
with determination and dedication.
This is my life now, Muniz said.
I am no longer an actor and I am just
focusing on this 100 percent and enjoying myself.
I knew that I couldnt do both, acting and
racing. I had to dedicate my life to either one
to do well at them. Since March, Ive only
been home 20 days because every other day
Ive been on the road with racing.
The New Jersey-born Hollywood star started
acting at the age of 8 and proceeded to star in
movies such as Big Fat Liar,
Agent Cody Banks, My Dog
Skip, Racing Stripes and
Stay Alive, his most recent movie.
Though he still is young, Muniz said he knew a
career change was the right move.
I never feel like I am my age, but
Ive always felt like I didnt have a
lot of time left in my life, Muniz said.
Ive been working since I was 8, so I
felt like I was 50 and thought I had 20 years of
life left to do whatever I wanted to do.
Ive never been able to sit and relax
because Ive always been running here,
running there. Im lucky because most
21-year-olds are still at home and Ive kind
of retired and started another profession.
Jensen has turned out to be Munizs
mentor, manager and driving coach, all rolled
Weve done everything correctly so
far and we are seeing he is competitive at a
pretty high level, Jensen said.
Considering its only been 10 months,
it is kind of shocking. But he is competitive at
the Atlantic level, which is only one step below
Champ Car Formula I. It was a good thing for him
to get hooked up with people who knew what they
were doing to try to teach him all the right
things along the way.
After getting comfortable with the Champ Car,
Muniz will have two pre-season races in
Sebring, Fla., on Jan. 7 and in Miami on Jan. 14.
His first Champ Car Atlantic race will be April 7
in Las Vegas.
Turn seven at this track is a 160-mph
turn, so racing is very hard and dangerous,
Muniz said. Ive been racing against
racers who started when they were 5 or 6 years
old, and I started when I was 19. I am playing a
lot of catch-up, but fortunately Ive been
able to get up to speed.
Some of the cities Muniz could be racing in
next season include Denver, San Jose, Cleveland,
Houston, Montreal and Portland.
I like being in control of my destiny,
which if I train hard enough and work as hard as
I have, it will show in my results, Muniz
Simond Pagenaud of Australia won the Champ Car
Atlantic Series in 2006. Muniz someday wants to
fill those shoes, and Jensen believes he can go
Sky is the limit for him because he is
still young and look what weve done with
him in 10 months, Jensen said. As a
team, we have nine race cars and a full-time
staff, so he can be out there racing every week,
which means practice, practice, practice, like
Racing is no act for Muniz
December 6, 2006 - I rarely watch
television; I'd rather curl up with a good book.
But my husband was a big fan of Malcolm in the
Middle so I ended up watching it too. Frankie
Muniz, as the eponymous Malcolm of the
award-winning show, has been acting since he was
eight years old. He also played in successful
movies before giving up acting to become a racing
driver. I met him at the Formula BMW World Final
in late November.
Muniz raced for Jensen Motorsport in Formula
BMW USA and I was curious what this
now-21-year-old would be like. I nabbed him for a
chat in the garage during Friday practices at
Valencia. Since I only talked to him about his
racing, I guess he didn't realise that I knew who
he was. So he almost apologetically informed me
he "used to be an actor".
I know, dear. He blushed, which made me laugh.
I extracted a promise for a "proper"
interview later and wandered on my merry way.
When I eventually caught up with him on the
Friday afternoon after initial qualifying, I
discovered him with his arm in a sling and an ice
pack on his hand.
He'd hit a patch of dust, or maybe taken too
much kerb, and the steering wheel wrenched out of
his hand so hard the kick-back had possibly
fractured bones in his hand. But he was
determined to race no matter what. So how did
this, as I discovered, rather sweet guy end up in
"I've always been interested in racing.
I've always wanted to get into it, but I never
actually knew how to make the first step,"
he said. "Also I never really had time; I've
been acting since I was eight. When I was filming
the show it was all year except for maybe two
months, three months, but I'd do a movie in
between so it was non-stop."
"Even if I had the time I had no idea
about what I was supposed to do and where I was
supposed to go (to get into racing). But I was
buying a NASCAR Nextel Cup team with a few guys
and they introduced me to Eric, who owns my (BMW)
team, because they knew I wanted to start
"They gave me a test and I did all right
so Eric signed me for the next two years. This is
my tenth month racing, ninth ever in a car, and I
feel like I'm doing pretty well for that. A lot
of people I'm competing against have been racing
since they were six, seven years old in go karts
So was the decision to quit acting a direct
result of wanting to race? "Well, either way
I think I was going to take a break, maybe a
year, just to relax," Muniz explained.
"I've been going non-stop since I was eight
so I figured I would take a break. But once I
started the racing thing I realized you have to
dedicate 100 percent of your life to it in order
to make it something serious rather than a
Muniz is not short of a dollar or two. You
can't go around buying NASCAR teams, even with
partners, unless you're considerably richer than
your average budding racer. Due to his background
Frankie was aware of possible negative reactions
to him coming into racing.
"The money only gets you so far. It kinda
gets you in at the beginning but then you have to
perform. If you're six seconds off they won't let
you drive, so you have to be competitive. Yeah,
in the beginning I think a lot of people were
like 'Oh, you know, this acting kid (he made an
expression as if to say 'sheesh'), whatever,' but
I'm improving every week."
It's undeniable that Muniz is generally toward
the back of the Formula BMW field. He even laughs
about it himself. But he takes it all on board as
valuable experience and has his sights focused on
a move to Formula Atlantic, a car which he has
been testing and says suits his driving style
"I'm not good in it at all!" he
laughed about the Formula BMW car. "I'm,
what, 2.7 seconds off the fastest guy, which is
not too great. It's a totally different driving
style to the Atlantic car, which I've been
driving for the past two months, three or four
times a week. I'm really quick in the Atlantic
car. I feel like I'm very confident and it feels
"I guess the best way of looking at it is
that the BMW is a $70,000 race car and the
Atlantic is a $250,000 race car, so you have
$180,000 more of technology. That's the
difference. It's like buying a Ferrari or a
Milk float, I suggest (with apologies to BMW)
and he giggles.
"Yeah. No, really, I love the car (BMW),
it's great, but it just doesn't suit my driving
style. But it's a lot of fun. With the Atlantic
car you can be really aggressive with the
steering; if you mess up a corner a little bit
you have the power to save you. With this (BMW)
you have to build up all that momentum and you
have to be super-smooth."
"If you saw at the wheel it makes the car
feel really, really unstable so you have to just
baby it in (to the corner), easy out, because if
you start to lose it you can't react too quickly
because then it just feels wobbly. The Atlantic
car, you turn and it goes there. But this car,
it's a great learning series for kids coming from
go karts to get into cars. It's a real car, it
races on real tracks and it's pretty fast, you
know, 140 miles per hour. For 15, 16-year-old
kids starting out it's great. I've had the best
time this year in this series."
Muniz appears set on developing himself as a
racing driver and to be honest I got the feeling
that it's no act. You don't spend a season
slogging determinedly away at the back of the
field just to learn if you're not committed. It
might be a drastic change from the kind of life
he previously had but he's embracing it with
"It's totally different," he said
about the switch to racing. "One hundred
percent different, but it's amazing, I love the
lifestyle, the travelling and everything. One
thing I really like about racing is that I can
control my destiny: driving the car, if I do
devote my life to it, it'll show in the
"Whereas in acting, if a critic said you
did a bad job, even if you put in 100 percent
effort, then you stink." As an actor you
might get criticized just because someone doesn't
like you. But if the racing results are there,
even if they don't like you they can't argue.
"Exactly," Frankie stated. "I'm
still learning so much and I'm having an amazing
time. It's awesome!"
Just like most of the lads I met over the
weekend, Muniz was genuinely likeable and
enthusiastic. With his relatively short
experience as a racing driver and his
difficulties with the Formula BMW car it's hard
to judge how he might progress, but I really
wouldn't be surprised if he goes on to be
Sort of a Homecoming
December 4, 2006 - Frankie Muniz and his Jensen
MotorSport team return to friendly turf this week
for 2 days of testing with the Swift 016 Atlantic
cars at the MSR Houston circuit in Angleton
It seems like such a long time since Frankie
Muniz started his professional racing career. It
is also hard to believe how popular the MSR
Houston circuit has become since Jensen
MotorSport first visited last in February.
Team owner Eric Jensen states, "We had a
fun week of testing at MSR Houston last February.
That was Frankie's first time in a race car, so
it's incredible when I think about how much
progress Frankie has made with his racing
since." Jensen continues, "Also, it's
terrific how successful the MSR Houston circuit
has become. It's one of the best circuits in the
country, but like most businesses, it's success
is really related to quality people like track
operators Leslie & Al Mitchell.
Returning from the BMW World Finals in Spain
just last week, Frankie Muniz states, "I am
really looking forward to getting back into my
Atlantic car. I am so much more comfortable
driving the Atlantic car, and with all of our
off-season testing, I am excited to see our times
relative to my friend Simona di Silvestro whom I
raced in the BMW USA series this year.
Driving the #22 Jensen car will be Dubai based
driver Christopher Zoechling. This will be
Christopher's 2nd Atlantic test, as he tested the
team's Swift 014 in September. Christopher (18)
has been a front-runner in Formula Renault in
both Europe & Asia the past two seasons.
For more details about Jensen MotorSport, or
to attend one of our test sessions, contact us
via e-mail at email@example.com