Dale Earnhardt and Frankie Muniz

Actor Frankie Muniz, best known for his title role in the show Malcolm in the Middle, shared an incredible, bizarre tale of meeting Dale Earnhardt the day the legendary driver died.

Muniz, who will drive full-time in the ARCA Menards Series this season, told the “Speed Freaks” show about his experience attending the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt lost his life in an accident on the final lap of that event.

Muniz recalls being stunned to meet the seven-time NASCAR champion before the race.

“Dale Earnhardt, he came up to me at the drivers meeting actually, and he told me, ‘I just have to say, I’m a huge fan, your show has brought me and my daughter so much closer,'” Muniz said. “I was like 15 at the time, the hugest NASCAR fan, and I was like in awe that a hero of mine was saying that they were a fan of mine. And when everyone was climbing in their cars he stopped me again and shook my hand and said, ‘Man I love your show, I love your show.’ Then he got in the car.”

This is where it gets very strange. Muniz watched the race in NASCAR driver Kenny Schrader’s pit. He got a Schrader jacket, and he got three autographs on it, those of Earnhardt, Schrader, and then-NASCAR star Sterling Marlin.

The accident that claimed Earnhardt’s life involved three drivers: Earnhardt, Schrader, and Marlin.

Here’s Muniz recounting his meeting, and the bizarre coincidences of his visit at Daytona International Speedway (The meeting between Muniz and Earnhardt is at the 0:15 mark.):

“The three cars that were really involved in that incident were Sterling Marlin, Kenny Schrader and of course Dale Earnhardt,” Muniz said.

Here’s video of Muniz in the pace car to start that race:

Want one more goosebump moment? Muniz said the ARCA Menards car he’s using at the upcoming Daytona race is built with the chassis that was on Marlin’s car in that 2001 Daytona 500.

“At first it was a little eerie when you put all those pieces together, but it made me feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be in my life,” Muniz said.

[Speed Freaks; Photo credit: Frankie Muniz]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.