News > News Archive > December 2006

Next 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


‘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 way.

Seven seasons and 151 episodes later, the show ended in May, but that didn’t 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.

“I’ve 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t do both, acting and racing. I had to dedicate my life to either one to do well at them. Since March, I’ve only been home 20 days because every other day I’ve 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 I’ve always felt like I didn’t have a lot of time left in my life,” Muniz said. “I’ve 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. I’ve never been able to sit and relax because I’ve always been running here, running there. I’m lucky because most 21-year-olds are still at home and I’ve kind of retired and started another profession.”

Jensen has turned out to be Muniz’s mentor, manager and driving coach, all rolled into one.

“We’ve done everything correctly so far and we are seeing he is competitive at a pretty high level,” Jensen said. “Considering it’s 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. “I’ve 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 I’ve 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 said.

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 pretty far.

“Sky is the limit for him because he is still young and look what we’ve 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 any sport.”

-Joel Luna


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 motor racing?

"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 racing."

"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 and stuff."

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 hobby."

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 much better.

"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 really good."

"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 buying 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 enthusiasm.

"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 results."

"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 successful.

-Nikki Reynolds


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 Texas.

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


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