In a sense, all NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are already actors. At least, those who drive under the support of a major sponsor.
Fully sponsored Sprint Cup drivers, while certainly not trained thespians, do indeed need to be somewhat articulate and memorize certain lines for interviews.
Although this necessity tends to make most post-race interviews rather drab, it is a necessary job skill to be mastered if a driver is to secure any sort of long-term sponsorship. While on-track performance will always be the most important aspect of a driver's relationship with a sponsor, off-track intangibles are now almost equally as important.
Many of the more successful drivers in the sport have been featured in commercials. Some have even appeared in films and on television.
Thus, part of a stock car driver's career requires a certain amount of charisma in front of the camera.
Lights...camera...action! Here are 11 drivers that could have alternate careers on the silver screen and/or television.
Kasey Kahne is not the most outspoken, effervescent or ebullient of drivers, but he was blessed with natural movie star good looks that seem to resonate quite well with female fans.
A good role for him would require the character to have few lines. However, because he is in such prime physical condition, he would also benefit from an action-type role that requires lots of stunts and running.
One role that he would be perfect for him would be a remake of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He could be the antagonist and replace Robert Patrick as the T-1000 that is hell-bent on eradicating John Connor.
Kevin Harvick has a natural ease in front of cameras with a microphone in his hand.
He speaks clearly and has mastered the art of the ironic smile, especially when talking about his nemesis, Kyle Busch.
Harvick is also fairly decent when angered. He has a scrappy demeanor that could resonate well on the screen.
His best role would probably be as some sort of double agent in a spy movie, because he can seemingly switch his personality not only well but quickly.
Still, for whatever reason, I would love to see Harvick replace another Kevin—Kevin Spacey—in the role of John Doe in Seven, alongside Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. I do not believe that his wife, Delana, would support that opinion. His sponsors would likely frown on this role as well.
The most popular driver in the sport nine years running is no stranger to the camera.
He has even appeared in a major motion picture: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, starring Will Ferrell. If you have never caught his cameo appearance, watch the film again.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a bit of a different case from the rest: He has an appeal that is somewhat beyond description. No matter how bad of an actor he was, his legion of fans would flock to see his films as a matter of course.
That is not meant to sound negative towards the man himself, but his massive popularity alone makes him a strong candidate to star in any film even tangentially related to racing.
Kurt Busch would be a perfect candidate for a role in an R-rated film that required a lot of cursing. He is a true artist when it comes to his dalliances with the dark art of foul language.
Nobody in NASCAR says the word "m*********r" better than Kurt Busch. Check out this video.
So long as Busch could take himself into his mind where he could express the anger he felt while in the midst of a poorly run race, he would be fine in a film that required that same gusto.
The three-time champion with the barbed-wired wit would have no trouble translating that into a televised or cinematic viewing.
He is quick on his feet. He can improvise. Tony Stewart is probably one of the most natural actors in all of NASCAR for an ironic reason: His natural personality resonates on television—he does not have to act.
Both he and his car will appear in an upcoming (or already run by the time this article publishes) episode of Last Man Standing with Tim Allen. Apparently, Allen was impressed with Smoke's acting skills.
The thing about Stewart is that he could probably care less about this. He would never become an actor and, indeed, may never become a husband. He seems, like the last owner/driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Alan Kulwicki, married to racing.
No one in NASCAR can pull off wearing sequins and impersonating Liberace quite like Michael Waltrip.
Martin Truex Jr. helped him out in this commercial, but it's really Waltrip's performance that is more memorable. Who else in NASCAR could kick a piano bench quite like that?
Aside from this, he has an articulate nature that usually ends up producing more interesting interviews than the average full time NASCAR driver.
Had I never had the chance to play Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine video game, his inclusion on this list may not have been warranted.
If you want a preview of that game, check out the review I wrote.
The notable feature in this specific game is the clarity of Johnson's voice-overs. True, he probably had a few flubs that needed to be re-recorded, but the overall strength of his voice and the clarity with which he can enunciate in this game alone is proof enough that he could carry himself in any role for which he could find a casting call.
Like Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer is fairly easy on the eyes. While not as accomplished as some of his counterparts on this list, Bowyer has the presence and charisma to succeed in a career on the silver screen.
Beyond that, he seems as though he need not be type-cast: He could play a multitude of roles as long as he can flash that same grin throughout the filming process.
Greg Biffle could fit perfectly into more than a few sitcoms currently airing on prime time television.
He just has the look.
Also, he has been featured in a commercial expressing NASCAR's commitment to the American farmer by using gasoline made partially from ethanol (a by-product from American-grown corn).
Still, aside from that, Biffle could possibly be cast on The Office or Parks and Recreation and fill whatever role the writers deemed fit for him.
Jeff Gordon is already almost living like a movie star parading as a stock car driver. Look at this picture.
He is waving to fans at Super Bowl XLVI with his attractive wife by his side. Is that not an almost-cliche movie star perk?
Jeff Gordon has certainly transcended the sport. Rounding out all of the current drivers at Hendrick Motorsports, Gordon has perhaps the greatest combination of popularity, good looks and natural charisma of all of those drivers. He has also been in the sport longer than any of them.
It is difficult to say, at this point, whether Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be a bigger draw if they were cast in the exact same role, in the exact same movie.
Carl Edwards has the physique—and good looks to match—to be a big box office draw. It also helps that he is warm and endearing when on camera.
No matter, because Edwards would probably do best on television as a WWE wrestler. He is an avid fan and is already friends with John Cena.
His flips off of his car for a victory celebration could be translated into a finishing move for entertainment.
Edwards has logged some time in front of the camera: He appeared on 24 and will appear in the the television mini-series To Appomattox in 2013.
Despite whatever acting ability Edwards may have, it would probably be most enjoyable to see him enter the squared circle of the WWE and do interviews for that company. I have no idea what his gimmick would be, but it would almost surely get most WWE fans' attention.