Text: Iñigo S. Roces / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 24, 2012 22:09
A quick chat with Rockstar endorser and stunt driver Tanner Foust
A few months ago, much of the metro was caught up in Borne Legacy fever. And why not, glimpses of Hollywood stars like Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz or Edward Norton could be had. And for car fanatics like us, news that the titular chase scene of the movie would be held here starring none other than our own Jeepney was certainly music to our ears.
Of course, for those that follow the US Formula D drift championship closely, the arrival of one particular star was anticipated far more than the rest. That star is US Formula D drift champion, stunt driver and TV host Tanner Foust.
Here to do the stunt driving for the film, the 38 year old drift champion is also known for his exploits in other motorsports like rally, ice racing, time attack and rallycross. Tanner has been driving under the Rockstar Energy drink team, first in drifting with a 350Z and now in the X Games with the Rockstar Energy Ford Fiesta. He’s also hosted shows like SPEED Channel's SuperCars Exposed and Redline TV, ESPN's Import Tuners and the History Channel’s Top Gear USA. He’s also been a stunt driver for films such as The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift, Iron Man 2, and The Dukes of Hazzard. All of which have inevitably led him to the Philippines, driving behind the wheel of a souped up Jeepney for one of the film’s elaborate chase scenes in Manila.
Rockstar Philippines made it possible for Tanner Foust to take a break from his busy shooting schedule and meet with Philippine fans and motoring media.
At the top floor of club Seventh High in Bonifacio High Street, Tanner eagerly mixed with the crowd and was more than happy to grant the media an interview.
Naturally, many of those present were curious about the Borne Legacy filming. Tanner was hesitant to give away all the details but did give away enough to get us excited for the movie.
Tanner Foust: “Borne is not really a driving movie. Driving is more of an accessory. What we did was drive with Jeepneys. There are also some motorcycles involved. One of these Jeepneys was not impressive on the outside but it had a sweet engine inside, it was clean, had a cold air intake. I even took a picture.
Interviewer: So besides stunt driving for the movie, what else keeps you busy these days?
TF: I’m full time in the European rally cross series. You take these small cars like the Fiesta. Little all-wheel drive car that goes 0-100 in 1.9 seconds. It’s 600 hp. You get six of them together in a track that’s half tarmac, half gravel. It’s just chaotic. I think it will take off in the US. X-games is going to go international with six games events including x-games asia. That will be cars and motorcycles. I kind of invested in time in going to Europe in the last two years learning to do that. So I’ll be ready for that.
IR: Looks like you’ll be in the area. Will you come back to the Philippines?
TF: I’d love to come back to the Philippines. You guys are awesome. I know there are Rockstar cars here already ripping around so I’d love to demo some stuff. Hopefully rally cross will come around here as well.
IR: So how did you make the jump from being a driver to a TV show host?
TF: Drifiting is one of those breakout sports not just for me but hundreds of drivers in the States. It’s not a traditional motorsport. It’s an action sport and appeals to younger crowds that are internet savvy and into viral videos. Sponsors really go to drifting first.
A lot of television shows and websites follow the sport. One of those TV shows wanted a driver host, so I did a hosting gig for a hotel room-based show. It was a show for pay per view hotel stuff. It’s a show about a dude driving a Camaro. You pay $6.95. No nudity involved in that.
That’s what I did and that led to a show on Speed Channel, then I did a show for ESPN called Import Racers. As a result, I’ve gotten to drive a lot of cool stuff. TV was a lot of fun.
IR: These shows cover a lot of events that you’re also a participant in. Was it weird to comment on yourself?
I think the good thing with driving and women is never to comment on your own performance. I don’t ever get put in a situation to comment on my own driving usually. In the TV show, we talk about the car, what I like about the cars, or what people like me like about the cars. Or talk about the actual race that was going on.
You know I’m not an actor. I’ve seen very good actors do their stuff and it’s very hard. For me, it’s just talking about cars and that’s what everyone in this room loves to do. As long as the camera doesn’t get in the way, anyone here can do TV stuff. It’s what I do, just car talk.
IR: After that, you went on to host TopGear, a show notorious for its antics. Any particularly memorable ones?
TF: Usually, the most hair-raising driving is on the way to the airport whether it’s in the States or here, shooting the Borne movie. We did get pulled over in the States. We were sprinting to the airport. It was a rental car and we got tagged going way too fast. A police officer comes up behind us, peeks into the window and goes… ‘Wait, aren’t you three…’
Yes, you want a photo?
So, we jump out of the car, posed with the guy, took a picture and shook his hand.
We left him in front of his police car and dashed off. He never got the license. That was the only time it’s really paid off. Usually I just get a ticket.
IR: Of course, that’s not a good way for any of your fans to start. Any advice to set them on the right path?
TF: It’s awesome that people want to make it their living. It’s a lucky time to be growing up right now. Drifting is one of the few sports where you can make it happen. It’s super daunting to get other people to pay your bills. It’s a sport that’s super in demand because you have a younger audience.
First, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the people writing the check. They want to make themselves look good at their job, get a promotion and excel. They need to trust you and know that you’re not going to blow it for them.
You have to do trustworthy things on and off the track. Recognize that people are watching. Even in practice sessions, people are watching. Don’t spin out if you can avoid it. Start slow and build from that.
If you are recognized as the consistent one, it’s a lot better than being the one who can put together only one in four runs that is spectacular. Consistency — that will bring results, regardless of whether you’re male, female have a crazier car or whatever. The one that wins will be getting the sponsors.
IR: Was that how it started with you?
TF: My dad’s Porsche was officially the slowest Porsche ever built. It’s a 912 E. it has that iconic shape. Everybody in this room at some young age saw a car, heard something and sort of got hooked. That’s a common denominator with all of us.
IR: You’ve clearly moved up from that now with the Fiesta that goes 0-100 in just 1.9 seconds. Do you get to keep all these cars?
TF: I’ve become a bit of a hoarder. I want to keep them all. I really like all of them. I still have the 912E. It makes my garage smell like my dad’s garage. Which is cool.
Toyota has given me the Scion. The Scion was a crazy Frankenstein of a machine, converted to rear-wheel, has a Nascar engine, I wanted to keep that one.
The 350Z, my team owner sold it, but the guy that bought it still races it.
I’d like to keep the Fiesta.
IR: What’s your daily drive?
I still have my E46 M3. I bought it new in 2004 and put 99,000 miles on it. I don’t get out very often. I have a 911 Turbo that’s a freeway car. Most of the time, I take a Raptor, it’s a Ford pickup truck. I live near the coast and if a get a chance to sneak to the beach, that’s the car I take.