The seventh installment of the successful "Fast and Furious" franchise is in theaters this weekend.
Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese, and Ludacris return along with the late Paul Walker for another sequel to the epic car saga which started over a decade ago.
However, you may not realize that at the heart of the globe-spanning, physics-defying films lies a real-life story about street racing in New York City.
The movies, which have earned well over $2.3 billion globally, were inspired by an article from Ken Li in the May 1998 issue of Vibe.
"Racer X" tells the story of street racer Rafael Estevez from Washington Heights and how he transitioned into the sport of drag racing.
The article also divulges on the popularity of Japanese import car customization and the operations in place to crack down on New York City street racing.
"Racer X" was a featurette available on a "Fast and the Furious" disc release that came out in 2002.
In the feature, director Rob Cohen reveals he was inspired to make the film after hearing about the article and subsequently watching a race in Los Angeles.
As a result, Cohen convinced Universal to make the film and the studio bought the rights to the film from Li.
2001's "The Fast and the Furious" was a film featuring an LAPD officer (Paul Walker) who went undercover into the world of illegal street racing to join the ranks with a well-established racer (Vin Diesel).
The film, produced on an estimated $38 million budget, went on to make $207.3 million worldwide.
Watching the film now, it's easy to see the article's influence in the movie.
Here are excerpts from "Racer X":
A black Nissan 300ZX and a white Mitsubishi Starion pull out of the pack and creep up to the starting line. As the sun dances on the nearby river, the sound of honking horns and screaming drivers is drowned out by the sonic blast of the two engines revving for takeoff. A stocky Latino dude in a blinding yellow shirt stands in the middle of the highway and raises his hands. Both cars lurch and halt like chained pit bulls, their wheels spitting out black smoke. The hands drop.
Young men have been fascinated with tweaking and tuning big block Chevys and Mustangs since the days of Rebel Without a Cause. But the new guys wouldn’t be caught dead driving the gaudy muscular beasts of yesteryear. Instead, they’re tricking out low-buck Japanese imports like Honda Civics and Acura Integras and tattooing them like skateboards with Neuspeed and Greddy car parts stickers. By stroking the engine, adding a supercharger, and hitting the “juice” (nitrous oxide: a gaseous liquid once used to boost bomber planes in WWII), they can smoke the herb in the Iroc at the stoplight.
Read the full piece HERE.
"Furious 7" is in theaters April 3.
Relive the trailer for the original film below which has a drastically different feel from the heart of the more recent additions to the franchise.
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