“So they call and they’re all, ‘Rollie, this is great, but can you put a submarine in it?’”
It was at this point in the presentation that I may have snorted audibly. It was just so Hollywood, and I was in a military bunker surrounded by English farmland, which is not where one expects Hollywood. Also, several of the debut cars were running rather rich and we were in a small space and I may have been delirious.
Whatever the reason, I decided to just get into it, so by the time the semi truck was doing donuts and the fake jet engine on the back of the armored 1970 Dodge Charger from Fast & Furious 8 was shooting fire while drifting around the semi truck doing donuts, I was fully onboard with the idea of a live stunt show based on the Fast & Furious movies.
Welcome to “Fast Camp,” where stunt drivers and special effects crews are preparing for the 2018 debut of Fast & Furious Live, which is, as it sounds, a live performance with automotive stunts based on the Fast and Furious franchise. I didn’t get to see the full show, but it promises Chargers and Supras and lots of burnouts as well as a scene where a heat seeker missile hits a submarine and it explodes while a Charger jumps it. As requested.
I can only imagine the submarine, but what I did get to see was what goes into designing an ambitious stunt show, and it’s a lot more than ballistics blanks and timed fire (although there is a lot of that). The Fast Live show cars will be riding on special tires designed by Nankang that leave light grey rubber on the ground in a burnout instead of the usual black elevenses. Why? Because the show’s special effects depend a lot of projected scenes from the movie, and the entire arena is basically a light grey “green screen.” Dark marks would ruin the illusion after the first donut. There’s also a full LED team working on car-covering meshes of lights that can be illuminated in thousands of different, mesmerizing patterns. There’s a plot, of sorts, with a cop and street racers and the development of a family out of rebellious loners, all acted by charming and attractive stunt people and did I mention explosions? There are some.
But what about the cars? Isn’t that the real draw? Indeed, and fans of the movies will find the show to their liking. Obviously, like OBVIOUSLY, there are Dodge Chargers, both the “original” ’70 that Dom made famous and the rocket-backed ice racer from F8. Is the Flip Car in it? Yes. How about a tank? Guys, they got a tank. Yes to Skyline, yes to Supra, yes to motorcycles.
Unfortunately for engine nerds, the stunt show (like the movies) does not waste time with exotic Hemis and carburetors. The engines in most of the muscle cars are LS3 Chevys, with a few Duratecs thrown in. There is also a 2JZ, you guess where. Hint: not in the tank. All the vehicles except for the OG Charger and the ramp car are sequential manual gearboxes. Unlike the movie cars, there is a surprising lack of Naws blowing through the stunt engines. Vehicle coordinator Dan Anslow laughed when I asked about the nitrous buttons and fake blowers. “Our main need for the stunts is high output with smooth predictable delivery, hence it’s mostly N/A, excluding the Supra of course. We had to have a 2JZ in the Supra. We chose engines for performance and also that good V8 sound.”
I only got a sample in the small test arena, but I can preach to the good V8 sound. The European tour will start in London’s O2 arena on January 19th, 2018. The show goes on to Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. North American tours are in the works for 2019. Get more info at www.fastandfuriouslive.com.