'Malcolm's' Muniz Shifts Into Pro Racing

ByABC News

April 13, 2006 — -- Frankie Muniz has a new Formula -- and it's not the type you'll see on a primetime sitcom.

The 20-year-old "Malcolm in the Middle" star has applied the breaks to his acting career, at least temporarily, to race for Jensen Motorsport in the Formula BMW competition.

Muniz, who has been acting since he was eight, recently wrapped up the final episode of the Fox TV comedy, and he insists that he's not going to dabble part-time in the sport.

"I got signed to Jensen Motorsport for two years, so once the show is done, I'm just going to be doing that full-time," Muniz tells ABC News Radio.

"I've been on the show for seven years going nonstop, and I'm definitely extremely fortunate," he says. "I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm lucky to be able now to sit down and go, 'OK, I'm going to race for a few years. ... I'll come back to acting later.'"

Bryan Cranston, who plays the dad on "Malcolm" has given his somewhat fatherly support. "He's real good, and he takes calculated risks, but he's very smart about it," he says.

"He's working with his trainers. I mean, he's driving every single weekend."

Muniz's interest in pro racing heated up after he competed in the 2004 Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race.

Of course, Hollywood has many serious drivers, some of whom compete, despite the inherent risks. Paul Newman has his own team, and last January, the 80-year-old Oscar-winner was seriously injured after testing one of his vehicles at Florida's Daytona Beach racetrack, and it burst into flames.

Muniz is best known as a comedian, but his new career could put him in line down the road for a big-budget action flick, as there have been several. Racing films include Burt Reynold's "Stoker Ace" (1983), Tom Cruise's "Days of Thunder" (1990) and Sylvester Stallone's "Driven" (2001).

Newman, who sped his way into the Guinness Book of World Records a decade ago as the oldest driver to win a professionally sanctioned race, makes his first big-screen appearance since 2002's "Road to Perdition" this summer in Disney/Pixar's next animated feature, "Cars."

The film, set to premier in June, stars "Wedding Crashers" stars Owen Wilson as cocky race car Lightning McQueen. The star-studded cast includes Bonnie Hunt as a souped-up Porsche, Bob Costas as "Bob Cutlass," Larry the Cable Guy as a rusty tow truck, and Newman as a 1951 Hudson Hornet.

Muniz will devote himself to full-time racing when the film opens, but perhaps he'll make time for the sequel.

ABC News Radio's Dave Alpert and ABCNEWS.com's Buck Wolf contributed to this report.

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