Sunday race is homecoming for Jersey boy Muniz


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Sunday race is homecoming for Jersey boy Muniz
By PATRICK BUGANSKI • Staff Writer • September 13, 2008

MILLVILLE -- As a television and film actor, it was easy for Frankie Muniz's family to see him work, but this weekend will provide the 22-year old New Jersey native's family the first chance to see him in his new career as a racecar driver.

Muniz drives in the Atlantic Championship Series, the highlight event of this weekend's Mazda Formula X event at the New Jersey Motorsports Park.

"This is where I'm from, this is my home, so it's cool," Muniz said Friday between test sessions at Thunderbolt Raceway.

Muniz was born in Wood-Ridge, Bergen County, but moved to North Carolina when he was 4. He later returned with his family when he was 10 to be close to New York and pursue an acting career. When he was 13 and landed his role on FOX's "Malcolm in the Middle," he moved to Los Angeles. The majority of his family still resides in Bergen County, though.

"My whole family is coming out," Muniz said. "My grandparents, my sister, my cousins, aunts, uncles, which is kind of cool because it's the first time they're ever going to see me race. It's the closest we've ever come to them. All my family should be here Sunday for race day, which should be fun."

Moving forward, his family should have plenty more opportunities to see Muniz race and fewer, if any, to see him on screen.

"I'm not trying to be an actor right now," Muniz said. "I'm not saying that I won't ever act again. I'm focusing on racing 100 percent, and I think you have to. The only way you're going to get better is by being in a racecar all the time."

Muniz currently is 12th out of 28 drivers in the series point standings, and he's one of just two drivers to finish every race this year. In fact, he's finished at or ahead of his starting position in every race.

The Atlantic Championship works as a developmental series for the Indy Racing League, which Muniz has aspirations of reaching. He said NASCAR is an option for his future, but he prefers open wheel racing and road courses, and would rather move on to IRL. Other options would include Grand-Am or the American Le Mans Series.

Muniz began racing in 2004, when he drove in a Pro/Celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix. He went to run with Formula BMW before joining the Atlantic Championship in 2007. Muniz has been a quick study behind the wheel despite the lack of a racing background.

"The things he's learned in acting as far as what he needs to do within himself to be a better actor has come out on the race track," said Carl Skerlong, Muniz's teammate with Pacific Coast Racing. "You have to be able to take criticism, that's the only way you're going to get better."

Muniz originally heard about the Millville circuit about a year ago, when he was looking for a place for his former team, Jensen Motorsports, to test. But with the track not opening until this past July, Muniz hadn't seen the track until now.

"I've been really excited about it," Muniz said. "It's great. It's very fast. It's beautiful. It's going to be a lot of fun to race on."


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The race season is over. Frankie didn't win or really tear up the charts in terms of finishing position though he did get something interesting for someone coming from crazyland Hollywood: