Michael Rooker challenges Kyle Busch to race for 'Rowdy' nickname

Michael Rooker challenges Kyle Busch to race for 'Rowdy' nickname

FONTANA, Calif. — The 1990 film “Days of Thunder” is etched in both Hollywood lore and the deep memories of racing fans worldwide. It only makes sense then, that actor Michael Rooker often has fans come up to him and address him as his notorious character from the picture — Rowdy Burns.

Rooker, on hand at Auto Club Speedway for grand marshal duties in Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX), was asked before the race how he felt about two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch co-opting the nickname he made famous.

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Turns out he’s cool with it … but also kind of wants to win it back for himself.

“You know what? That’s okay. He’s kept the name alive. Rowdy, what a great name,” said Rooker, who also attended the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum earlier this month. “First of all, great name. And he’s been making it proud as far as I could tell. Although, I just saw him during the race over at the Coliseum. And you know, I posed the challenge. Him and I, one-on-one. Wheelchair race, anywhere, anytime, Mr. Rowdy.”

While Busch has the upper hand in the overall racing experience department, Rooker might get the edge if this fantasy race were to ever happen — he’s the only one with a win (or at least a photo finish) in that particular discipline.

Clearly, the popularity of “Days of Thunder” has not waned over the years and in some respects only seems to be growing. Seeing the major worldwide success of 2022’s “Top Gun: Maverick” — a revival of 1986’s “Top Gun,” also starring Tom Cruise and also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, as “Days of Thunder” was — it only begs the question if Rowdy Burns and Cole Trickle are also due for a reboot.

Is Rooker up for it? You could say so.

“Ching ching,” he said, rubbing his thumb and fingers together in a press conference before the race. “That’s a good answer for you. Of course I would! … But you know, when you do these things, the older guys that were who they were, they always want to get it back. You know, and the fans would want to see me and Tom racing against each other, you know they would.”

Classic Rowdy.