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The entire Fast and Furious franchise was inspired by a true story

The Fast and Furious franchise - now on ten movies and counting - was inspired by a magazine article from 1998 about real street racers.

Fast and the Furious

The Fast and Furious movies have evolved over the last two decades into a high-octane blockbuster action movie franchise that features cars swinging from vines, cars flying out of planes, and – lest we forget – cars going to space. It’s easy to forget that the franchise had humble origins – in the grounded world of street racing, carjacking, and petty thievery – (Trust me, this makes watching the Fast and Furious movies in order a jarring experience)and it was based on a magazine profile of a real group of street racers.

The article was called Racer X (maybe the title of the tenth Fast and Furious movie – Fast X – is a homage to these origins?) and it first appeared in VIBE magazine in 1998. Journalist Ken Li wrote the profile of the street gangs in New York, with the main ‘character’ who was interviewed being Rafael Estevez – who is ostensibly the inspiration for Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious character Dom Toretto.

Estevez is described as; “a 30-year-old Dominican drag racer from Washington Heights” and “is considered an OG among a growing legion of young speed junkies terrorizing the back alleys, highways, and legal racetracks around New York City.” Estevez is also described as; “six feet tall with stooped shoulders and a healthy gut, he writes his own rules. Forget about valor, compassion, honor; in his book, that’s all synonymous with second place.”

Speaking to Yahoo in 2015, Li said; “I think for ten seconds they considered me to write the script, but it ended when they asked what I thought the story was, and I said, ‘Did you read the story?’” Li remembered. “What they ended up doing was an American Graffiti meets Point Break meets West Side Story.” There is a definitely a huge dollop of Johnny Utah and Bodhi bromance to Dom and Brian’s criminal-and-undercover-cop love story. Diesel’s Fast and Furious cast mate Paul Walker tragically passed away in 2013.

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The screenwriters moved the action to Southern California, which is the birthplace of the culture that Li captured in his Vibe story. Li was on board for that decision, and helped one of the writers research elements of the underground street racing world.

“The strange thing about the plot of the movie was it was actually closer to the kind of story I was aiming to write with the article. I was trying to uncover some car theft ring, and edited that part out of the story. Oddly, they ended up taking my story, which had nothing to do with a theft ring, and then they ended up making a movie about that.”

You can now see just how far the Fast franchise has come, because Fast and Furious 10 is now out worldwide. You may be wondering if Paul Walker is back in Fast X and if Dwayne Johnson is in Fast X. If you want to be well and truly spoiled – you can read the Fast X ending explained and everyone who dies in Fast and Furious 10.