It’s kind of a big deal that Brad Pitt is making a movie about Formula One and that he was filming for weeks at Daytona, including filming during the actual Daytona (Almost) 24-Hour Race last weekend. At one point, much of the Internet was convinced that Brad Pitt managed to sneak into the race as a marshall on pit lane. That wasn’t actually Brad Pitt, but I got to speak to the guy confused for the hunky actor, and he’s been enjoying the confusion.
“How does it feel to be mistaken for Brad Pitt? Not as good as if he were mistaken for me but it’s definitely providing a lot of fun for family and friends,” Todd Godek, the long-time motorsports tech official and firefighter who was mistaken for Pitt, told me.
Why did people think Todd was Brad Pitt? There’s a pretty good reason. Brad Pitt was really there, being a fake race car driver and hanging around the race track. Here, you can see him in this video from Parker below:
That new driver finishing their first stint pic.twitter.com/Ot8bceUw4U
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) January 28, 2024
As reported by the AP, Brad Pitt has been at Daytona filming scenes for his new F1 movie, the plot of which involves Pitt as Sonny Hayes, an old driver who has an accident and sort of washes out and becomes a sports car driver, which isn’t the worst fate for an old F1 driver. Hayes is brought back into F1 to help mentor a younger driver, which is also kind of the plot to Driven. As the AP reports, the film was a bit of a nuisance to some at the track:
His presence has been a bit of a headache to many of the other drivers in the field, mainly because of the heavy security at the driver motorhome lot, where Pitt has a spot for his downtime during filming. IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin complained he was denied access to his motorhome because he wasn’t carrying his credential for entry — an unusual rejection for an athlete clearly in uniform coming directly from the racecar.
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, a regular in the Daytona infield lot, said he’s been bumped to an overflow lot, same for many of the top drivers in the race. Among them? Former F1 champion Jenson Button and IndyCar driver Colton Herta, who wondered if he should ask Pitt for advice on how to make it into F1.
At one point during the beginning of the race photographer Jack Webster noticed an official in the pits that looked like Pitt and Sports Car Daily even ran a story claiming it was maybe him (they’ve since updated the piece). IMSA confirmed to The Autopian that it was not, in fact, Brad Pitt but Todd, who has been an official and participant in motorsports for decades. This was his 20th or 21st Rolex 24, he’s not quite sure.
“This Rolex 24, I was serving as a tech official on the lane and I believe the tech officials were in the older fire suits to differentiate from the pit-lane officials so maybe that made me stand out, leading to the mistaken identity,” he explained.
It’s not an unreasonable mistake to make given that Todd does have a similar physique. Here’s a younger shot of Todd, a firefighter for 25 years, in a calendar that raises money for the local children’s hospital.
Of course, that was “younger and in-shape me” Todd joked when he sent the photo. Pitt is supposed to be an aging and “washed up” ex-racer, but he still looks like Brad Pitt and Todd has aged quite well. Here’s a more updated picture from this weekend:
While Todd didn’t get to talk to his celebrity doppelganger, he says he saw Pitt filming during the week. This also wasn’t Todd’s first brush with a celebrity:
Back in the GRAND-AM days, I was having a conversation with Patrick Dempsey at Barber Motorsports Park as a couple walked up to us politely and patiently waiting for our conversation to finish. Patrick walked away and the couple asked me If there were any famous drivers here at the track. They had heard Rusty Wallace was going to be there and asked if I knew where he was. I paused for a brief moment bewildered, they had not even recognized “McDreamy.” I replied to the woman, “Do you know who you were just standing right next to?” She couldn’t believe it when I told her and was almost in tears. Luckily, he came back by, I was able to introduce him, and they got their selfie.
Dempsey has been a long-time fixture in motorsports and is also, by all accounts, a friendly dude.
I asked Todd if he had a favorite memory working these races and he said there were so many that it’s hard for him to separate out a favorite, but being mistaken for Brad Pitt “will be up there with some of the top stories,” especially since his fellow race officials have been sending memes about it to one another. This is a story you can ride for a good 10-15 years.