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Six Pack of Pop: 'Chicago Fire' star on NASCAR

September 18, 2013, Zack Albert,

'Chicago Fire' star gets his feet wet with NASCAR

David Eigenberg, New York-born and Chicago area-raised, made a name for himself with the role of Steve Brady on the long-running show "Sex and the City." Now his acting pursuits have taken him to something much hotter, at least in a temperature-related sense.

Eigenberg currently plays firefighter Christopher Herrmann on the NBC drama "Chicago Fire," which premieres its second season Sept. 24. He took time out from the small screen with some of his fellow cast members to take in last weekend's NASCAR activities at Chicagoland Speedway, where he caught up with

Is this your first NASCAR experience?

It's my first time at a race. I follow some of it, and it's been kind of exciting with the stuff that came up all last week, with Bowyer and Logano and with Jeff Gordon getting in with the 13th position. It's pretty cool. It's exciting. We do a TV show about controversy and people getting mixed up, so it's nice to see that there's some drama here. You just hope everybody stays safe, but it's nice to see everybody mixing it up. We were down in the pits and saw all the stuff that goes on down there, with them weighing the vehicles, and the car gets off the scales and on the jacks, then there's a problem. Guys are always looking to cut corners and making stuff work a little bit better. They're talking about a tenth or three of a second makes the race.

Has anyone prepared you for what to expect as the grand marshals or what your duties might entail?

All we've been told is that we've got Danica, so it's going to be "Drivers, start your engines." No more "gentlemen." As far as I know, that's what we're going to do.

Do people still come up to you and say, "Steve! Steve!"

All the time. Listen, I'm flattered that I got a chance to portray a character that's kind of endured the test of time and touch people and warm people's hearts. It's nice to play the nice guy. If you're an actor playing a bad guy, some people aren't always the nicest to you. They'll go, "you're a dirtbag!" or something like that. It may be joking, but that stuff really starts wearing on you after a while. When people go, "We love you!" it doesn't wear on you. It feels good.

Have you lobbied to drive in some capacity today?

They were going to take us in the pace car and the rain kind of washed us out. We were here at 7 o'clock and were going to go around the track. I've been saying, "C'mon, throw us in the car."

How close have you been to some of the action on the set? You know, with actual fire?

Oh, yeah. There have been periods where guys have to step out and say it's too freakin' hot, and that's like between two or three hundred degrees. I popped the hood on a car in a scene where we had an engine fire. It's controlled, it's propane, but I popped the hood and it jumped out at me. I turned my head and one of the real firefighters working with us said, "you know, if you open the hood a little slower, you won't throw so much oxygen on it, you fool." He looked at me and said, "You know you singed your eyelashes." (laughs) We get in there. It's nothing compared to what the real guys do, but we definitely have a danger element, and there's an excitement that occurs on the set. It gets hot -- 90 to 95 percent of the stuff that we do is all real. It's a controlled fire, but the CGI (computer-generated images) is only sometimes to sweeten the edges of the frame. But 95 percent of it is real, controlled fire.

I guess where I'm going with that is, if we had an accident today and -- heaven forbid -- one of the cars caught on fire, would you be able to step in and help put it out?

You know, the men and women out there would be best served by the real professionals. We certainly look and maybe would want to, but we will hang back and let the professionals do it. Their training is more extensive and their familiarity with the real deal is much more. Our hats are off to them.


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