We knew you were into cars and bikes, but...
I’m into anything that produces horsepower. If lawn-mower racing was in my town, I’d be in!
How did you get started?
I’m eternally the kid from Detroit. Back in the ’80s my mom worked at the GM proving grounds, and I got to take a ride ¿with Ricky Johnson, this legendary racer, in an off-road trophy truck. I’ve been obsessed ever since. I just finally got this Class 1 Baja bug.
And you wanna race this thing seriously?
My dream is to race it in the Baja 1000 in Mexico. Some dudes iron-man it, which is what I would do, driving the entire thing by myself. Poop your pants, throw up in your helmet, sleep while you’re driving…I don’t know if I’m physically capable of it, but that’s my dream.
Has spending so much time in the garage ever affected your relationships?
Well, Kristen [Bell, his fiancée] has been great about my being a gearhead. For one, she’s not super interested in it, ¿so she doesn’t realize what’s really going on here. When I’d just finished fixing my ’67 Lincoln Continental, she said, “You just spent a year and a half to make it sound like it’s gonna break.” I’m like, “Honey, that’s a huge cam—that sound is awesome.”
Is she a backseat driver?
No, she’s a great passenger. Last year we went on the Nürburgring in Germany in a 911. We had a layover in Frank¿furt, so we rented a Porsche from Avis and traveled 120 miles and drove the ring all day. She ran the Flip cam. She wasn’t the least bit scared, even at 180 mph.
So you want to ¿take the path of Paul Newman, say, and become a legit racer?
I’m trying to be Steve McQueen without lung cancer. That’s the end goal.
Shepard stars in The Freebie, in theaters now.