“It’s hard to believe that [NASCAR racer Ryan] Blaney, the driver of the No. 21 Ford for the legendary Wood Brothers racing team (though he’s off to Team Penskenext season) has time to be a fan. When he’s not flashing the driving skills that have already earned him his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, he’s hosting his own podcast or representing his sponsors and the sport in general. No less an authority than Dale Earnhardt Jr. called Blaney the man to root for once he retires if you like your driver to be engaged on social media and making frequent appearances.
Despite his daunting schedule, Blaney is also known around the garage as a huge fan of what is commonly known without stigma as geek culture. And it starts with Star Wars, where he’s the guy you don’t want to tangle with in a trivia contest and is known to investigate random stores in search of old t-shirts.
So how did the 23-year-old, third-generation racer, a guy who was born 10 years after Return of the Jedi hit theaters, get hooked on a galaxy far, far away? Episode I defenders will like his answer.
“I was probably six or seven when Phantom Menace came out,” Blaney said to FanSided via email. “That’s the age as a kid when you start figuring out what you like and don’t like. I enjoyed it right away and saw Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith right when they came out. I discovered the originals when I was a little bit older, and it’s always something I’ve been intrigued by. I did enjoy it right away, and it was pretty cool how it worked out because it was unique timing that I was able to get into it at an early age when your mind is developing.””