More than 600 fast and furious cars will descend on February 25 in West Palm Beach, FL for “FuelFest” and few are more excited than one of the event's pioneers, Cody Walker.
FuelFest was a labor of love for Cody, who continues his late brother Paul's legacy of raising money for charity while sharing a passion for cars.
M&F sat down with the youngest Walker brother to find out why a passion for cars runs in his blood and why driving gives him a valuable mental and physical outlet.
The Walker family is well known for Paul's much-missed appearances in the Fast & Furious series. After his untimely death in 2013, Cody helped complete the final touching scenes of Paul's character Brian O'Conner, but a love of cars stretches back generations in this sporting bloodline.
Cody's grandfather was a Pacific middleweight champion in the Navy during WWII and even fought at Madison Square Garden. Cody's father was also a boxer and a two-time Golden Gloves champion. His maternal grandfather worked on and raced cars for Ford in the '60s. There is no denying the Walkers' competitive spirit and passion for cars.
"He used to have some records," Cody says of his grandfather. "He worked and built transmissions, and my dad loves cars too, so we always had something cool around the house." It was inevitable that the Walker kids would grow up wanting to know how things worked under the hood. Nevertheless, FuelFest is not just for technology enthusiasts. Anyone who appreciates the beauty of a well-designed car or the roar of a powerful engine can get in. "I wanted to create something that would be very inclusive for everyone," says Cody. “We are not genre specific. Whether you're a gearhead or not, even if you have even the slightest interest in cars, we wanted to create a cool, fun environment for people."
FuelFest continues the legacy of the Reach Out Worldwide charity
Automotive fans can look forward to an epic experience filled with appearances from Fast & Furious stars like Cody and Tyrese Gibson, along with the usual startling celebrity sightings and a stacked program of entertainment and drifting; with professional formula drift driver Chelsea Denofa. There is everything from American muscle cars to exotic cars and the day is an opportunity to enjoy some incredible machines with a backdrop of music and excitement. "We want to keep making every show bigger and better," says Cody.
FuelFest is also a great way to honor Paul's legacy of raising money for disaster relief, which means everything to Cody, as a portion of the proceeds from these events go to the charity his older brother started. "We often say that 'Reach Out Worldwide' (ROWW) was a piece of Paul that he left behind," says Cody. "It was something he created, it was something he funded all by himself and obviously he was the beating heart and soul of the whole thing so it was devastating to lose him for a thousand reasons but we guess ROWW and the work he started there, so it was an honor and a great responsibility to help keep this organization going. They say, 'Find a way to do what you love.' We donated approximately $300,000 to ROWW through FuelFest. To be able to create an event that is so much fun and that I know Paul would approve of very much due to his love of cars with a special meaning is a win-win scenario and I am also thankful to have the support of everyone, from everywhere.”
There's no doubt that whatever he does, Paul still feels very close to Cody. "This vember marks the 10th anniversary of his departure and it really doesn't feel like 10 years have passed," says Cody. "Here we are 10 years later and people still care and people still support and honor his memory and the incredible person he was and the work he did."
As well as entertaining thousands of revelers around the world, with stops in Japan, Germany and Abu Dhabi already on the calendar and a return to the UK in the works, Cody is also reaping a host of positive mental and physical benefits from being in falling behind the wheel.
Driving gives Cody Walker a physical and mental boost
"It's therapy," says Cody. "I think it's therapy for a lot of people. It's just about getting in the car, and I'm not saying driving spiritedly or fast, it's just about cruising your favorite road. Whether listening to music or not, I often don't have any music on, I just listen to the car and enjoy the drive. The same goes for the car wash. I like washing my own cars. We are constantly concerned with the physical aspect, but the mental health is so important.”
When it comes to staying in shape, Cody loves functional training. "I'm working on flexibility. I don't do a lot of heavy weights," he says. “I like HIIT training. My body responds very well to it.” Cody devotes a lot of time to working on his core, which comes in handy when he's busy with two kids. The idea that Cody would find joy in helping others comes as no surprise. He was a paramedic growing up and recently hosted "Fast: Home Rescue" on The Weather Channel with his wife Felicia. Working with charity ROWW, they traveled thousands of miles to help people with storm-damaged homes. “We renovated one house a week for 12 weeks,” he beams.
Cody isn't a professional racer, but he loves staying physically fit and appreciates the commitment it takes to turn pro. "I follow motorsport, the drivers are in incredible shape," he says. "Think of the G-forces they have to withstand - the muscles, even in their neck, their coordination and reflexes. If you look at Formula 1, what are they doing? They do reflex training with the alternator and turn on the lights. I think it was Schumacher who was really ahead of his time as fitness was such a central part of motorsport.”
To see some of the world's top drivers and most stunning cars, visit the FuelFest site for locations and tickets.