In 2019, racing fans got a glimpse of Christian Bale driving a Ford GT40 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans in the movie Ford v Ferrari. Another actor will get behind the wheel of a racing car in the 2022 race, but this time without a script.
Starting Saturday at the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans, Michael Fassbender will be part of the Porsche 911 RSR-19 racing team, competing alongside Canadian Zacharie Robichon and Australian Matt Campbell in the GTE-Am class, which features at least one amateur in the lineup is represented.
The German-Irish actor has starred as Magneto in the latest X-Men series, appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, and starred as the Apple founder in Steve Jobs . The latter two earned him Oscar nominations.
But while his acting career has been the focus, Fassbender has quietly built a solid racing career, finishing second at the Portimão 4 Hours in Portugal in 2021. Here’s everything you need to know about Fassbender’s racing history.
Michael Fassbender racing history
Back in 2020, ahead of a race for Team Proton Competition, Fassbender said he had long dreamed of becoming a professional racing driver, specifically racing at Le Mans.
“Even before I started acting, I had a big dream of racing – I knew that from a young age,” Fassbender said, according to Motorsport.com.
Autosport reported in 2017 that Fassbender began racing in the Ferrari 488 Challenge Cars that year and completed his first practice with Ferrari’s Corsa Pilota in 2016. He finished 15th in the field of 36 in the Coppa Shell class at Mugello.
After another year at Ferrari, winning the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, Fassbender teamed up with Porsche for the Road to Le Mans series, according to The Checkered Flag. All episodes of the series can be seen on YouTube.
“I think it’s the history of the place,” Fassbender said of Le Mans in the show’s trailer. “I think it’s the riders who crashed there, competed there, won there. To be a part of that would be amazing and that’s the beginning of it.”
Fassbender raced at the national level, where he drove a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, according to Motorsport at the Porsche Sports Club, and advanced to the 2020 European Le Mans Series season. He drove a 2017 Porsche 911 RSR for the Proton Competition Team and raced with Richard Lietz and Felipe Fernandez Laser.
The New York Times reported that in addition to the European Le Mans Series 2020, Fassbender also competed in two races of the Porsche Supercup.
This 2020 season, Fassbender finished fourth twice, once at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and again at the Algarve International Circuit.
The following year he helped Proton Competition finish fourth in the championship and finished second in the Portimão 4 Hours in Portugal, according to The Times. He later finished third at Le Castellet early in the 2022 season.
“Michael Fassbender has decided to take up the challenge and I am impressed by how he has tackled it and taken every step to prepare for Le Mans,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. which organizes Le Mans, the New York Times said. “He’s approaching the race with tremendous determination and I expect him to put in a great performance.”
Actors in motorsport
Fassbender is not the first actor to get behind the wheel of a car in a competition.
Steve McQueen, star of the 1971 film “Le Mans”, won the three-liter class of the 1970 Sebring 12 Hours with Peter Revson and finished just 21.1 seconds behind Mario Andretti, Ignzaio Giunti and Nino Vaccarella in the overall classification the race for second place.
McQueen wanted to compete in the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the film’s producers forbade him from doing so. His son Chad McQueen started a racing company called McQueen Racing and competed in several major events including the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Paul Newman actually drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and more than held his own. Newman and the trio, who rode with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen on the Dick Barbour Racing Team, finished second overall in the 1979 race in their Porsche 935/77A, winning the IMSA GTX class and finishing just seven laps behind the winning team of Klaus Ludwig back , Don Whittington and Bill Whittington.
Newman also won the GTS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona when he teamed with Tommy Kendall, Mike Brockman and Mark Martin in a Ford Mustang for Roush Racing. He was still racing in the 2005 24 Hours of Daytona when he was 80 years old, although he did not finish that race. Newman co-owned the Newman/Haas Racing team in CART and IndyCar.
Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey owns Team Dempsey Proton Racing and has competed in several major events throughout his career. His team won the LMGTE Am class at Fuji Speedway in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship and his team finished 22nd overall and second in the LMGTE Am class at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was his fourth time competing in the legendary French race.