A pair of actors got to experience Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in a different way.
Mike Vogel, who stars in the NBC show “The Brave,” served as the honorary starter, and Jay Hernandez, who appeared in the movies “Suicide Squad” and “Bad Moms,” was the grand marshal.
Vogel said this was his third NASCAR race, and the experience never gets old.
“I love it. There’s nothing like being in the pits and watching that ballet that takes place on the swaps. I’m happy to be here again, and I love the relationship NASCAR has with our service members,” Vogel said.
Vogel plays a special-forces operator in “The Brave,” and has worked with veterans charities.
“Before I got into acting, I was heading to the Air Force Academy,” Vogel said. “All I wanted to do was be a fighter pilot. I’ve always had an affinity for people in that community. While never having served myself, it’s something that I’ve respected and done my best to be involved in any way I can, to honor their service and sacrifice.”
He also struck up a friendship with retired driver Carl Edwards of Columbia.
“We bonded more over our love for flying than anything else. Pilots, when you meet a fellow pilot, the conversation instantly goes to that,” Vogel said. “There’s just a brotherhood in piloting and aviation.”
Sunday marked Hernandez’s first trip to a NASCAR race, and he prepped by playing a PlayStation 4 video game.
“I grew up around a garage. My father was a mechanic. I grew up around muscle cars and old Chevys,” Hernandez said. “My dad’s first car is a 1954 Chevy, and he still has it to this day. Being around a garage has a childhood thing that brings me back.”
Hernandez hasn’t seen much NASCAR, but he’s seen enough to know that it’s not nearly as easy as it looks.
“If you don’t know the sport, it’s easy to say ‘Eh, they’re driving in circles.’ Yeah right. It’s insane,” Hernandez said. “They hit the walls, and they just shrug it off. I would’ve soiled myself.
“I’m realizing it’s a really wonderful place to bring the family. It’s an open environment. You don’t have the type of access at other sporting events you have here. It’s really special. I think the access is really cool and unique, and it’s getting me excited.”