News & Media

Six Pack of Pop: Lee right at home as NASCAR grand marshal

June 14, 2011, Joe Menzer,

Jason Lee, star of the TNT television series Memphis Beat and grand marshal of last Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway, answers this week's six questions.

1. How much fun are you having on Memphis Beat, which has its season premiere Tuesday on TNT?

"When you look in the rear-view mirror and you see those guys right on your ass, warming up their tires, it's kind of intimidating."


Lee: We're having a great time this season. Speaking of fast cars, we've had some good chase scenes. I drive a '64 GTO on the show and that's always a good time, when I get to drive really fast with [co-star] Sam [Hennings] in the passenger seat. I always scare him -- but he knows I'm a good driver. I know how to drive a car.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Hennings admits to this, but said he has "had to change his pants" a few times after filming a chase scene in which Lee drives.)

2. So have you always liked fast cars?

Lee: Oh boy, what kid doesn't? I grew up in the '70s, riding dirt bikes and going to the races. My father and my brother in the '80s used to drag-race custom Volkswagens. So I got to help build those engines and go to those races a lot. I went to [Auto Club Speedway] a lot. So it's always been a part of my life since the '70s. I've just been diggin' it.

3. How big of a NASCAR fan are you?

Lee: I love it, man. I used to, of course, always appreciate anything relating to fast cars. But until I went to [Auto Club] Speedway and saw a NASCAR race in person, I never realized how powerful, fast and exciting it was. The adrenaline was just off the charts. It was incredible to watch it live, and after that I was hooked.

4. Do have a favorite driver?

Lee: I like Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5. Why are you a Junior fan?

Lee: I met him when I went to that [Auto Club] Speedway race [September of 2006] where I got to drive the pace car. He was just a classy dude, and he came so close. He pushed it and pushed it and pushed it. And at the very end, he passed like three guys and almost had the race. [Earnhardt finished second behind Kasey Kahne]. He was very determined that day, and that's really when I started pulling for him, after what I saw that day. It was really cool.

6. How much did you enjoy being named to the role of grand marshal for the race at Pocono?

Lee: It's amazing to be able to say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines.' And then to get to go in the pace car, too, like I have. That was an awesome experience as well. When you look in the rear-view mirror and you see those guys right on your ass, warming up their tires, it's kind of intimidating.