Meet the Real Fast and Furious: 130 MPH, Creating Supercars, and Breaking Records

34 Comments

Forget drag races and movie stars with “nitrous.”

Instead, imagine using spotting planes, counterfeit police cars, and thermal night-vision cameras to break the record for the famed Cannonball Run from NY to LA: 32 hours and 7 minutes. How to do it? Sustain approximately 130 miles per hour on average the entire time (when you factor in refueling time). This is who I interviewed today.

Meet the real Fast and Furious: Alex Roy, captain of Team Polizei 144, travel executive, filmmaker, and philanthropist… I caught up with him recently and, between begging/convincing him to take me racing (offroad), we did the action-packed interview below, which answers the following and more:

Why the hell would he risk it?
How did he prepare?
Did he have any close calls?
How did he modify his car, and why did he choose a BMW over a Porsche or Lamborghini?
How much would it cost for me or you to do it?
What are the keys to pulling it off besides driving fast?

If you’d like to meet Alex and me, we’ll be hanging out with his super-modified car and others on November 26th. “FERRISSREADER” gets you 15% off, and no, I’m not getting a kickback. A portion of proceeds will go to LitLiberation projects and schools still in need of funding. Here’s how to get in.


Here’s the interview with Alex–it’s a good one:

###

Odds and Ends: It’s been a BIG week!

-I was featured as the cover story of the NY Times Styles section last Sunday. Insane. The same day, I broke the top 1000 on Technorati. You guys are rock stars–thank you!

-Yesterday, 4HWW was announced as one of the Marketing Top 50 of 2007 by AdvertisingAge.

-Today, I was on the CBS Early Show and found out 4HWW is one of the Best Books of 2007 on Amazon. Please take one click to vote for me here!

-Tomorrow? Who knows. These are exciting times (and don’t worry; there’s more language learning coming). Thank you all for your support and for helping me to enjoy the ride :)

Posted on: November 14, 2007.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

34 comments on “Meet the Real Fast and Furious: 130 MPH, Creating Supercars, and Breaking Records

  1. Tim,

    This is one of the most entertaining things I’ve listened to in a while. I have just recently started your diet plan. I would be starting to follow all of the advice in the book now, but I’ve recently been called as a missionary for my church and will spend two years in Tacoma Washington, however, I think that a lot of the things I’ve learned from your book will come in handy. I just wanted to say thanks for such an interesting and compelling book and good work on the blog. As they say in arabic (of which I’ve taken one semester, but used your method to improve upon my knowledge), mabrook!

    Like

  2. I am surprised you are somewhat heroizing such douche-bags. If I understand this correctly (I am not from USA), the dickhead drives like a Vin Diesel wannabe through public roads with pedestrians and other vehicles at risk??

    I don’t know the geography or the reality of this race…help me out.

    Like

  3. Voted for the book at Amazon. You’re running away with the vote!

    Also — I was amazed when a friend of mine told me I had my picture in the NY Times last Sunday. It turns out that the photographer at the MIT event got a pic of me standing next to you and that pic made it into the article. How totally cool.

    -kevin

    Like

  4. Dang, Kevin beat me to it. I don’t know how long this has been up or how many votes had been cast, but after I voted for you, your book had 55% of votes, with your closest competitor (Made to Stick) having 11%. Congrats!

    Like

  5. First off, this post will most likely have absolutely nothing to do with your blog entry here. To be honest, didn’t even read it, not a big race fan. While I do agree the media blackout can be a great thing (when I lived with my parent’s they watched the news every day and it always left me either angry, depressed or hollow feeling, I haven’t watched the news since) if you set up you home-page on google (or whatever) with science news gadgets, they’re always almost always inspiring or uplifting. I think it has to do with the fundamental difference between science news and popular media news. Popular media is out to get ratings via shock, outrage, ect. Science news is out to get publicity by saying “You know problem x? Look what we’re able to do to fix it!” With the exception of the occasional disaster science news can aide in giving one the feeling that there is still hope for humanity. For me anyways, albiet I don’t typically do anything more then look at the top few headlines unless something really looks interesting.

    Like

  6. I had my ’82 Kawasaki GPz with front and rear radar (front beeped in my left ear, back in my right ear), big yellow stripes on tank and seat that were velcroed on for quick removal, flip up rear plate, cut out switches for headlight, signals and brakes.

    I could pick up a cop on one end of town, and dump him on the next. Looking back it seems adventurous, but at the time I was just trying to get to work on time!

    My reign of terror ended when the cops crashed their 2 day old Mustang Turbo Interceptor (worst handling cop car ever!) in a chase after me. They brought out 6 cars, a spike belt and rifles to hunt down the escaped goat.

    I got nailed in the end, they eventually returned my bike in a big box of parts plus the frame, but my legend remains 16 years later. Click my name for a pic of the bike (I’ll post it later today).

    ~V

    hey Tim,
    did the Nov.13 PR call happen? I paid/registered but haven’t received any notice about it since. The original email from your team was sent to my paypal address not my regular one and I did reply to get them to change that, but if they didn’t I may have missed it.

    Like

  7. This stunt put thousands of innocent people’s lives in danger. If Alex Roy wants to get his rocks off by driving fast, he should do his driving off of the public roadways.

    This man is no hero, and making him out to be one just encourages other idiots to drive recklessly.

    Like

  8. Congrats, Tim! It sounds like you’re attracting all kinds of wonderful things into your life.

    I’m planning on being in San Mateo December 7-10. If you’re going to be around, would you like to take a rain check for that cup of coffee we talked about?

    Like

  9. ###

    Hi Geo and Andrew and all,

    Alex is definitely a controversial figure, but that doesn’t necessarily make him 100% reckless. I’ll let him respond here if he can, but this is from his company website:

    “Team Polizei has a flawless safety record across 8 rallies in four years, covering over 25,000 miles in the US, Europe, Asia & Africa.”

    Is driving 130mph safe? Probably not, but I’m not heroizing Alex. I’m just presenting a picture of someone how has chosen to create a unique life and lifestyle. You might agree or disagree with his choices, but I just want to get you questioning assumptions about your own lives.

    Hope that helps!

    Tim

    Like

  10. Tim. I would have to disagree with your denial of heroization. From reading your copy on this guy as well as many of the comments in this threat, I do not see a balanced view of the situation. Being a non-USA resident…I couldn’t easily figure out the risks involved.

    Look at your last paragraph…This is borderline heroization, especially in context with your questions.

    My take is that this is one of the worse types of criminal activity. Putting the lives of unsuspecting public at risk. It is as bad as Drunk/Drugged driving or shooting a gun in a crowd and claiming that because his aim is so good, no one will be hurt.

    This is childish and selfish behaviour, and I cannot imagine the value this adds in questioning my own life assumptions…other than comfirming what sort of dickheads are members of society.

    Ask the $#%^&* if his budget covers sending flowers to the family of a child hit at 130mph. Maybe Garmin make a gadget to help.

    ###

    Hey Andrew,

    Point taken. I should have been much more specific in my last paragraph, and I just added “offroad.” I’ve always wanted to be involved in rally racing, but the type you see Subaru winning offroad with navigators, etc. Hope that helps clear up some of the confusion.

    Tim

    Like

  11. Tim,

    Love the book and it’s changed my life. Great interview here! I loved it.

    Your Match profile says “spiritual not religious.” You’re obviously up for the external challenges. How about the inner?

    http://www.UniversityofSantaMonica.edu

    Not for the faint of heart and only for those who are ready for true transformation.

    Much peace and love.

    Like

  12. Well Tim you thoroughly deserve all the attention you get!

    So many people could really do with reading your book. In the UK, I feel I will in a pre-xmas effort be posting copies to people I know would love it, as I just feel it’s so amazing, so liberating. When I first read it, I got a fever, symbolic of my head literally letting off steam,I am now a recovering information-a-holic(:)) and now I have such clarity, as I go about decluttering my head and my business! Amazing, for me it’s like a meditative read,’ in
    that it has allowed me to let go of how certain things ‘should,’ be run, or ‘need’ to be run in order to be profitable, making space for more adventure, and other fun things, instead of putting my life of hold whilst I finish this piece or that book etc, unhealthy paradigms, borne from the ego and horrid outmoded conditioning a truly speacial gift! Thanks!

    I can see a 4HWW for women, for CEO’s, etc. Aka the ‘chicken soup for the soul, series,’ which I am sure you could outsource:)

    Carrie x

    Like

  13. hey Tim,

    have you assessed your reader demographics? Judging by this car racing post and your last one with all the MACHINE GUNS, let’s hope the majority of 4hww followers aren’t PEDESTRIAN PACIFISTS. Then again, this may all factor into your “controversy” part of your PR methods.

    In defense of Alex Roy, few accidents are caused by serious driving enthusiasts who choose to speed, it’s from speeders who are basic idiots, usually with alcohol involved, and road ragers, and even more so by general inattentiveness while driving.

    When I used to do 280 km/h on my Triumph Daytona I made a point to never fiddle with my music at the same time!

    And the condition of many cars involved in accidents is ridiculous. Bad brakes, suspension, tires. They should have never been on the road in the first place. An enthusiast maintains his machine like a real race car.

    besides all that…
    HIS KEY TO SUCCESS WASN’T SPEEDING
    In the video he notes preparation, planning, the two GPS units, minimal gas stops, and being stealthy (not driving like an idiot). He specifically mentions not weaving through traffic. Even at 300km/h nobody else is in danger when you are the only one on a straight stretch of highway.

    V.

    ###

    Good point, Victory. The cars and guns aren’t a big part of my life, but I am interested in some weird and — sometimes — controversial stuff. My interests run far and wide. Especially after Robert Scoble and others has lamented how blogs now seem to be written by cyborgs (becoming dry and without personality), I’m trying to keep this blog an accurate reflection of who I am. I am not pro-war but I do like shooting targets, and I’m not pro-accidents, though I do like racing bikes at Infineon Raceway and elsewhere.

    I think it’s easy to overanalyze demographics and you end up trying to appeal to everyone, which makes the writing really bland. I’d rather cross the line occasionally, and I’m happy to face the heat for it :)

    Thanks for the good comment!

    Tim

    Like

  14. Thanks to Charles for posting the link to this morning’s interview – saved me a lot of time :) I voted, and will remind the message board & myspace crowd to do the same :) – but you are certainly kicking a lot of big pants in that poll! Rock on! ~Marcie

    Like

  15. Victory – I laughed out loud! I am totally a pedestrian pacifist! Literally, I just walked an hour home from my office since I sold my hybrid last year. And, the one time I went to an indoor range they had to give me 2 layers of ear protection ’cause I jumped every time anyone in the whole place fired. I guess adrenaline is not my thing.

    Even so, I recognize within myself a serious need for balance. I am working really hard right now at being appropriately aggressive with clients. It doesn’t come naturally to me. My default MO is to abandon a situation entirely or silently and patiently endure having my teeth kicked in. (Probably remnants of growing up with an older brother and still harboring the belief that no fight is a fair fight so why try).

    In any case, I’ll enjoy living vicariously for now through these posts. Perhaps most pedestrian pacifists secretly do. At the very least they can be inspired to work on their childhood issues. ; )

    Like

  16. I should note that I have made peace with my brother. In fact, I sent him a copy of 4HWW a few months ago. It’s the only book I’ve ever given him, I think. Not that he’s read it yet – I’m still his little sister, after all…

    Like

  17. Adding “offroad” does make a difference to your copy, and I now understand more of your point…thankyou. It is funny how an oversight of 1 word can mean so much. My take on the Vin Diesel wannabe hasn’t changed though.

    Also, I 100% agree with your comment on trying to appeal to everyone…it does end up bland. Just like political correctness and insurance agents bleed all flavour from life.

    This is one of the biggest reasons I have given up on mainstream media/news/etc. Written by idiots for idiots in so many instances. The other reason is quality of content is so much higher when it is written by people with passion…such as you find on blogs.

    Like

  18. @GEO:

    Given that we drove 2/3rds of the route at night, on a route reconnoitered for minimal traffic levels, on a holiday weekend when historical traffic volume data suggested bare minimum traffic levels, when we – unlike 99% of motorists – often used the CB to radio ahead to trucks for permission to pass, when we – in possibly only the second time such an effort was made – used a spotter plane to check conditions ahead before making speed/safety decisions….and when virtually no one noticed our passage then, or recalled our passage until we went public, I’m not sure one can say we endangered thousands.

    Although I’m no apologist for our actions, I think – given what I witness every day when I’m not speeding, AND what I witnessed during our run – the average American motorist, lacking training, using a cellphone, doing their nails, reading the paper, and watching dvds while driving, is almost certainly endangering more people over the course of their driving “career” than we were over the three days for which we spent several years preparing.

    FYI – my European relatives think I drive like an old lady, at least now.

    Best,
    Alex

    Like

  19. @Andrew:

    I understand your concern, and can only say that I – who had, have and now see in a way my younger self did not – always had something to live for other than my ego, which was why, given the countless, second-to-second choices during the run, didn’t commit to decision which might have saved weightless minutes at the risk of that nightmarish catastrophe which plagued every waking moment between the decision to go and the moment of arrival…

    Which is why I, who now treasure those slow moments in traffic listening to music, never speed. I’ve done the math.

    Best,
    Alex

    Like

  20. Driving safely at 130 mph or more is quite possible in most parts of the country, and it isn’t all that difficult, either.

    Once, a few years ago, I drove from Lawrence, KS, to Columbia, MO, via K-10/I-435/I-70, 165 miles in 95 minutes, averaging 104 mph. I’ve also driven at high speeds all across the Midwest, where roads are wide and traffic usually sparse. So I have some idea of what’s involved in driving safely at high speed on American roadways. (Mainly it’s set the cruise at 125 and curse at traffic.)

    The essential problem is that most people never learn how to drive safely. They get their licenses out of a Crackerjack-box DMV which hands them out like candy to anyone who can drive 25 mph, pretend to use turn signals and parallel park.

    Driving schools exist all over the country which teach the skills needed for safe high speed driving, but the knowledge is too specialized and not generally available to the average person. The irony is that you can learn the essentials of what you need to know in a few days of classroom instruction and track driving, while America’s high schools spend months to teach teenagers how to “drive.” It’s a complete waste of your property tax dollars and it benefits no one.

    Oh, did I mention speed limits in most areas are set far too low? Even the average untrained driver who’s been on the road for a while can manage to drive safely at 75-80 mph in rush hour traffic. The highways are designed for it. But the bureaucracy makes too much money on “speeding” fines (levied against people who were probably driving too slowly!) to set highway speed limits at reasonable levels.

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  21. Beyond all this juvenile “it is possible to drive safely at 120mph” & “we used a CB to ask permission to pass” crap, fact is, they broke the law and put people at risk.

    With regard to your demographic, I suspect one way to segment would be: responsible, law-abiding adults concerned about the health and safety of the community vs. irresponsible, devil-may-care, what’s-in-it-for-me kids.

    The Fast & the Furious? Mindless entertainment for juvenile minds… just like this stunt.

    Like

  22. tim,
    i am speechless. After reading (audio-tape) your book, i feel that your right. Life is more than working 40 years and then retiring. I make it my personal goal to implement some of the things you talked about it, but i think i need more help. If anyone has any very good suggestions for getting out of the “daily grind” and escaping to Berlin for a month or two, throw me a line.

    Richard D.-Music producer Miami, Fl

    Like

  23. Eric,

    Where in the constitution does it say that driving at 120mph with a follow plane in the middle of nowhere, with no one around, is putting people at risk?

    Seriously though, and don’t take this the wrong way, but maybe you might enjoy getting out of your cubicle environment – and out of extremely over-populated roads – for a weekend and go for a drive to see what the country is really like.

    I’ve driven cross-country several times, and you are not only in little or no contact with anyone, you also are much more attentive and and aware of your surroundings while “speeding”.

    Alex is right, the people that you should be scared of are the people going 10mph below the speed limit on their cell phones, and not paying attention.

    Do you speak on a cell phone while driving, Eric? Are you completely aware of your surroundings at all times while on the road? These are questions you should ask yourself…

    I think it would be great if there were a way to monitor a persons awareness or ultimately “attention levels” while driving that would determine that persons speed limit, but unfortunately there isn’t, so the state enforces rules that apply to the masses.

    BTW, the people that are supposed to be enforcing the rules are usually the ones breaking the rules when it isn’t necessary. Alex unquestionably is a more skilled driver than any police you will find on the road.

    Like